If you find
Overgrazing happens one plant at a time
Some animals return to regraze the same plant, almost the moment a new leaf appears ( such as a sheep, rabbit, horse or kangaroo)
Any ground that is not covered with living or dead plant material is ripe for erosion or weed invasion
The best chance you have to maintain pasture species composition is by minimizing the number of desired plants that die and encouraging desired plants to spread.
Preventing death of desirable plants means limiting overgrazing.
Overgrazing happens when a plant is grazed to the point where it will die or be seriously weakened. This can be brought on by one animal in a matter of one minute.
It happens one plant at a time. As a result, it is happening to this plant and that plant long before it is noticeable across a larger area.
And this is what makes it so hard for most animal managers to prevent.
Overgrazing is more common in set grazing or set stocking where:
- animals are allowed a grazing area greater than their needs
- they are able to range over it, choosing what they will eat
- they are not forced by a limited supply of feed to eat what they do not want
- the pattern is repeated for long enough. This could mean a long straight period or it could mean being in that same situation at the same time of year over several years, thus striking the plants at the same stage of development multiple times.
Overgrazing sometimes seems to be one of the hardest things to prevent. However, applying Animals on the move and adequate Rest plus using Animals as tools effectively to fertilize, mow and manage pasture composition while reducing weed problems will help to reduce overgrazing.
A Short on, long off rotation can allow enough time for a pasture to recover from grazing or cropping and the shorter “on” time can still allow the benefit to be gained quickly with much less risk of overgrazing.
So if the above patterns are applied well, you stand a good chance of having Minimal overgrazing.