“The conservation community in general, have been saying cows and conservation don't work together," said Greg Hoch, prairie habitat team leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "After further research... we've figured out cows and conservation can work very very well together."
WHAT'S THE BEEF WITH CATTLE?
Conservationists and agricultural professionals have learned that when creatively managed,cattle can mimic grazing patterns similar to bison, which once covered the prairie andwhose presence was vital to the ecosystem. Cattle may have different grazing patternsthan wild bison, but agricultural professionals have management options that can beused to minimize the impacts of cattle. Those include fenced inclosures around sensitiveareas and tactics that shift the locations where cattle spend most of their time.Creating new burned patches, turning on/off drinking water facilities, and movingmineral feeders around.
With rotational grazing, only portions of pasture land is grazed at a time while the remainder of the pasture “rests”. To incorporating rotational grazing, ag producers use fences to partition grazing land into subdivisions, often called “paddocks.” Livestock are moved from paddock to paddock and allowed to graze for a time, allowing the rest of the land to rejuvenate during that period.
Conservation benefits of grazing on a rotation:
• Allows native forage to regrow. (Healthy forage is important because they have deep root systems which stabilize soil and absorb nutrients. Vegetative cover also protects soil from wind and water erosion.)
• Prevents soil compaction.
• Decreases the risk of soil erosion.
• Limits storm water runoff which carries nutrients, manure, and pesticides into waterways.
What happens in your pasture...
does not stay in your pasture.
Agricultural land owners have a right to use water resources within their pasture lands
for livestock, However... they also have a responsibility to protect the quality of that water.
Mismanaged pastures along waterways negatively affect its water resources. Manure
runoff and bank erosion may cause fish kills, beach closures, increased public health
concerns, increased drain maintenance and other negative impacts downstream.
Proper grazing practices are required to prevent erosion and protect water quality.
Maintaining appropriate management practices will help prevent pollution and avoid
environmental complaints against pasture lands along waterways.