What is Regenerative Ranching?
Updated: Mar 16
A framework to sync cattle with the environment explained.
As ranchers look for ways to operate more sustainable ranches for both their livelihoods and the health of their cattle and the environment, regenerative ranching is one framework that can be explored. Regenerative ranching describes ranching practices that focus on preserving and rehabilitating natural resources. It can improve biodiversity of ecosystems, heighten livestock health and natural instincts, and increase the profitability of ranchers over time.
Livestock Health and Natural Instincts
Cattle have the instinct to intensely graze an area of rangeland and move to a different area, as they are herd animals. This allows grass to fully recover before being grazed again. However, this recovery of grass can be less seen as cattle have adapted to heavily graze areas of the pasture that they find favorable, while not grazing the other areas of the pasture.
Regenerative ranching aims to help cattle go back to their natural instincts through an Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing practice, which allows grass to fully recover. This system is centered around the idea of taking the land’s needs and pairing that with the time, frequency, intensity, and duration of cattle grazing it. A herd of cattle intensely grazes a small paddock of land for a certain amount of time before being moved to the next paddock, and so on. This allows for full utilization of the grass that cattle are confined to in their paddocks, and rest for the grass to fully recover after cattle are moved as it will not be grazed for a certain time.
By handling cattle more through their movement from paddock to paddock, cattle get used to being handled. Their stress is in turn lowered for activities that involve handling. Cattle are healthier under lower stress. In addition, the grazing season is extended for cattle because there are more available nutrients for them to utilize before adding hay for forage supplementation in the winter months.
Preservation and Diversification of Ecosystems
Biodiversity is important in an ecosystem, which begins with the soil. The allowance of recovery for grass creates more cover over the soil. The soil’s water holding capacity is increased, which improves the soil microbiome. Consequently, more habitats are created for pollinators, birds, and wildlife, which are imperative to a healthy ecosystem.
Some native and perennial grasses in an ecosystem naturally succeed through periodic grazing pressure. AMP grazing supports this to allow these grasses to grow healthy to provide nutrients to cattle, further creating healthier cattle.
Healthier soil due to increased cover from grasses was discussed earlier. What if you don’t have adequate forage that your cattle can graze? You can plant cover crops to fit your operation needs! Grasses and cereals, along with legumes are ideal cover crops that can be grazed. They aid in reducing soil erosion and nutrient loss, and increasing control of disease, fungus, pests, and weeds. Grasses and cereals can be planted in the late summer and fall season, while legumes can be planted in the winter.
Regenerative ranching assists in syncing cattle with the environment to help both to thrive, while also helping rancher’s profitability. The more productive rangelands are, the healthier cattle are as they are getting more nutrients. Thus, ranchers spend less on medications and veterinary care.
Cattle are better managed to utilize more of the land, meaning more profit for the rancher. The creation of longer grazing seasons means less hay fed in the winter. With hay being a high cost for ranchers, they save money on feed costs.
The implementation of regenerative ranching can be overwhelming, especially with the utilization of AMP grazing. Make the use of cross-fencing to sync your practices with the land a more profitable experience with Corral Technologies virtual fencing collar system.