Management Intensive Grazing: Foundation of Sustainable Agriculture in the South

Final Report for LST96-009

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1996: $33,762.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1998
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $109,463.00
Region: Southern
State: Louisiana
Principal Investigator:
H. Alan DeRamus
University of Southwest Louisiana
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Project Information

Project Objectives:

The objectives of this project were to provide comprehensive management intensive grazing (MIG) to national Cooperative Extension Service (NCES), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel, and innovative livestock producers stationed in the humid, temperate and subtropical Gulf South through a training project.

The specific goals were to:

1. Demonstrate via lectures and hands-on field training the economic, environmental, and agricultural benefits of MIG compared with conventional agriculture.
2. Illustrate the role of MIG in comprehensive sustainable agriculture planning.
3. Train participants to assess farm suitability (soils, pastures, buildings, equipment) for MIG. 4. Train participants how to teach field management to other farmers.
5. Develop and distribute fact sheets on MIG in the South for use by participants and clientele. 6. Development and distribute training videos that will supplement participant knowledge of MIG systems.

The concept of Management Intensive Grazing is needed in the South to efficiently utilize the abundant forage biomass produced annually. The method of educating the trainers should have been more interactive from the “grassroots”. If producers had demanded the Extension Service provide this type training, the county agents would have gotten their educational information. However, it seemed that producers were willing to bypass the Extension Service and use the agency (NRCS) that was willing to accept a more sustainable production approach.

A viable approach is currently being conducted in Virginia with pasture clubs and interactive training being conducted in grazing management.

Invitations were extended to NRCS and Extension State Offices in the 13 southern states. Announcements were published in regional and national publications and invitations were extended directly to NRCS and Extension Service personnel.

Since each state now has a sustainable agriculture advisory committee, more emphasis is being placed on educational training in this area. The Extension Service in the southern region has only sent token representation to participate in this particular education training endeavor. Most of the participants involved in one of these previous workshops indicated a desire for additional training in MIG. To accommodate those requests the advanced workshop was conducted in May 1996. All former participants were invited to return to this advanced workshop.

Education & Outreach Initiatives



Workshops were conducted in April, May and September of 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 to train participants in management intensive grazing (MIG). Participants included producers and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Alabama and ten Cooperative Extension Service County Agents from Louisiana with one each from Kentucky and Florida. The workshops were conducted for three days with both classroom and field sessions.

The itinerary included:

Oral presentations in the classroom:

The science and art of grazing management
Environmental management
Plant growth basics: energy flows, nutrient cycling, fundamentals of growth
Understanding soils and the landscape
Resources of the farm
Economics of management intensive grazing
Forage quality, animal requirements, and intake
Meeting nutritional needs of livestock
Matching livestock and forage resources
Forage system strategies for year-round nutrition
Controlled rotation grazing: putting it all together
MIG on my farm
Grazing Land Applications and nutrition balance

Field demonstrations with hands-on experiences:

Participant groups grazing demonstration
Water systems
Keeping pasture records
Forage quality
Field pasture assessment
Forage harvest efficiency
Fencing equipment
Forages for year-round grazing
Soils in the field
Quantity measurement and species identification
Forage management practical applications

Workshops were conducted in early spring on cool-season annual forages and in summer and fall on warm-season perennial forage. Information fact sheets in support of grazing management were written and included in a notebook for all participants.

Fact sheets:

"The role of ruminant animals in sustainable agriculture"-Alan DeRamus
"The forage growth and its relationship to grazing management"-Alan DeRamus
“Four Factors in the Application of Management Intensive Grazing (MIG) or Controlled Rotation Grazing” - Alan DeRamus
"Understanding soils and landscapes"-Lee Burras
"Estimating forage yield"-Matthew Mattox
"Grazing dynamics of beef cattle"-Jenny Hafley
“Resource Inventories and Evaluations for Planning Purposes” - Dan Caudle
"Proper grazing use"-Dennis Thompson
"Fringe benefits of rotational grazing"-R.L. Dalrymple
"Economics of management intensive grazing"-Leon Labbe
“Forage management practical applications” -R.L. Dalrymple
“No substitute for good management” - J.D. Roussell
“Determining winter pasture stocking rates”-R.L. Dalrymple

A video on MIG is currently being produced. The funding from this grant was not sufficient to complete the exhaustive training video in grazing management. The video is being completed with funding from other sources and will be available to SARE. This video should be beneficial to trainers as well as producers interested in MIG practices

Project Outcomes


Future Recommendations

My recommendation is that educational programs continue to emphasize this concept to train the trainer in the promotion of sustainable livestock production enterprises. This practice of Management Intensive Grazing is simply utilizing concepts of nature that have been in existence for centuries.

Programs in North Carolina and a pilot project in Virginia should be more successful in the promotion of the grazing workshop technique as they seem to have more involvement with all levels of bureaucracy as well as producers at the “grass roots” level.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.