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Greg Judy shares insight on mob grazing

Courtesy photoGreg Judy mob grazes a herd of South Poll cattle. He selected the breed because of their red hide that makes them more suitable to the temperature and humidity in the Missouri climate.

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No two livestock operations are completely alike, but by attending meetings like the Nebraska Grazing Conference, cattle producers can generate ideas to make their own operations more viable. During this year’s conference, featured speaker Greg Judy of Clark, MO, discussed how he was able to turnaround a virtually bankrupt livestock operation and make it profitable by improving his grazing techniques.

Judy operates a grazing operation on 1,400 acres of land consisting of eight leased farms and three farms he and his wife own. “Holistic high density planned grazing is used to graze cows, cow-calf pairs, bred heifers, horses and stockers,” Judy explained. “We also own a 250-head grass genetic cowherd, 300-head hair sheep flock, and a goat herd, and graze Tamworth pigs.

“We keep the animals bunched up to generate kinetic energy in the land. Many people don’t understand the animals are moved two to three times a day,” he explained. “People think we are stressing the animals by grazing such large groups on a small amount of land. By grazing the way we do, we are building up the topsoil and marketing solar energy.”



The most expensive part of ranching is the land, Judy said. “We all need to learn how to make the land more productive, without having to buy more of it. We need to learn how to do more with less.”

Energy is also the most limiting factor on farms, he pointed out. “On our operation, we manage our land so our plants don’t even know they’ve been grazed. But the key is to start with plants that have had a head start,” he explained. “Also, don’t let the plants sit for 30-40 days and mature before they are grazed. It has made a huge difference for us just grazing the tops off the plants right away and moving on.”



Judy also explained how healthy it is to develop a litter bank of dead material trampled into the ground. The dead material helps rebuild plant and soil health. “Earthworms eat all this dead material. A lot of people look at it as waste, but it is the future of your farm.”

In his planned grazing program, Judy said he has four rotations during the growing season, and one during the dormant season. “The object is to increase the stocking density, not the stocking rate,” he said. “Use the animals you have at least the first year. Once you see a response from the manure and trampling on the ground, you will have better forage the next year.”

Mob grazing has lowered Judy’s input costs while helping his bottom line. “I use the money I have saved to buy more livestock,” he explained. “I used to always apply lime and fertilizer to the fields, but I don’t have to do that anymore since I changed my grazing practices. We also get by with less machinery and minimal labor. We no longer put up any hay on Judy Farms, although we do purchase some emergency hay. It is only a small amount that would last about three weeks.

“We also make the cattle walk when we move them,” he continued. “It has been a major cost and labor savings. The animals also walk to water using temporary lanes, which are moved with the next rotation. We don’t have dirt cattle trails anymore,” he said. “I have found that overgrazing is a function of time, not animals. The cattle don’t back-graze anymore, as long as they don’t stay on a paddock for more than four days. If they have a fresh paddock to graze, they will walk across the strip to water, but they won’t back-graze it.”

No two livestock operations are completely alike, but by attending meetings like the Nebraska Grazing Conference, cattle producers can generate ideas to make their own operations more viable. During this year’s conference, featured speaker Greg Judy of Clark, MO, discussed how he was able to turnaround a virtually bankrupt livestock operation and make it profitable by improving his grazing techniques.

Judy operates a grazing operation on 1,400 acres of land consisting of eight leased farms and three farms he and his wife own. “Holistic high density planned grazing is used to graze cows, cow-calf pairs, bred heifers, horses and stockers,” Judy explained. “We also own a 250-head grass genetic cowherd, 300-head hair sheep flock, and a goat herd, and graze Tamworth pigs.

“We keep the animals bunched up to generate kinetic energy in the land. Many people don’t understand the animals are moved two to three times a day,” he explained. “People think we are stressing the animals by grazing such large groups on a small amount of land. By grazing the way we do, we are building up the topsoil and marketing solar energy.”

The most expensive part of ranching is the land, Judy said. “We all need to learn how to make the land more productive, without having to buy more of it. We need to learn how to do more with less.”

Energy is also the most limiting factor on farms, he pointed out. “On our operation, we manage our land so our plants don’t even know they’ve been grazed. But the key is to start with plants that have had a head start,” he explained. “Also, don’t let the plants sit for 30-40 days and mature before they are grazed. It has made a huge difference for us just grazing the tops off the plants right away and moving on.”

Judy also explained how healthy it is to develop a litter bank of dead material trampled into the ground. The dead material helps rebuild plant and soil health. “Earthworms eat all this dead material. A lot of people look at it as waste, but it is the future of your farm.”

In his planned grazing program, Judy said he has four rotations during the growing season, and one during the dormant season. “The object is to increase the stocking density, not the stocking rate,” he said. “Use the animals you have at least the first year. Once you see a response from the manure and trampling on the ground, you will have better forage the next year.”

Mob grazing has lowered Judy’s input costs while helping his bottom line. “I use the money I have saved to buy more livestock,” he explained. “I used to always apply lime and fertilizer to the fields, but I don’t have to do that anymore since I changed my grazing practices. We also get by with less machinery and minimal labor. We no longer put up any hay on Judy Farms, although we do purchase some emergency hay. It is only a small amount that would last about three weeks.

“We also make the cattle walk when we move them,” he continued. “It has been a major cost and labor savings. The animals also walk to water using temporary lanes, which are moved with the next rotation. We don’t have dirt cattle trails anymore,” he said. “I have found that overgrazing is a function of time, not animals. The cattle don’t back-graze anymore, as long as they don’t stay on a paddock for more than four days. If they have a fresh paddock to graze, they will walk across the strip to water, but they won’t back-graze it.”


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