Permaculture and Rotational Grazing
Permaculture farming methods are holistic and organic, working with nature instead of against it. These methods work hand in hand with grass fed cattle grazing. Permaculture farmers tend to raise grass fed livestock for dairy, meat, and manure but follow strict rotational grazing approaches similar to the regenerative agriculture practiced by Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed.
What Is Permaculture?
The word permaculture refers to “permanent agriculture and permanent culture.” It means consciously designing and maintaining agricultural ecosystems which resemble natural ecosystems in their biological diversity, resilience, and stability. Landscape and people are harmoniously integrated.
The greatest difference between a consciously designed ecosystem and a natural ecosystem is that the former is intended primarily for use by people and livestock.
Permaculture vs. Regenerative Agriculture
While permaculture and regenerative agriculture share many aspects in common, they are not synonymous. While both eschew the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, their focus differs.
Regenerative agriculture focuses on practices that will sequester carbon in the soil to combat greenhouse gas emissions – the major contributor to climate change. With regenerative agriculture, soil health is paramount.
Crops or livestock raised on a permaculture-based system may not have been exposed to chemical pesticides, but the consumer has no way of knowing whether the soil on which they were raised is healthy. Regenerative agricultural practices are geared toward improving the soil and encouraging biodiversity.
Permaculture uses rotational grazing methods for livestock, much like regenerative grazing. Rotational grazing consists of dividing pastures into smaller areas and putting livestock in one of these paddocks for the period necessary to graze the forage to an appropriate level. Once this level is achieved, the animals are herded into another grazing area, and the process repeats itself.
During the time the animals are in the paddock, their hooves trample the soil, adding organic matter to it. Forage species seedlings have an opportunity to proliferate. Manure naturally fertilizes the area. The animals eat a wider variety of plants than they would in larger pastures. When turned out in large pastures, livestock eats their favorite plants – which vary according to the animal species – and ignore plants they don’t like as much.
By not allowing the overgrazing of pastures, soil compaction is reduced. Plant root systems are not damaged.
Regeneration of the previously grazed pasture must take place before livestock are placed on it again. In the interim, manure has had the chance to decompose and fertilize the soil. Plants have the opportunity to grow to the best grazing height.
Permaculture grazing often takes place on smaller farms than regenerative grazing, although that is not a hard and fast rule. In some parts of the country, grasslands may comprise thousands of acres. In other areas, there are few farms of that size. Permaculture grazing may occur on properties consisting of 50 to 100 acres or less. The paddocks are smaller and the rotation faster. Cows may graze paddocks for only a day or two before the optimum grass level is reached. Spending more time in a paddock results in overgrazing.
Farmers practicing permaculture grazing may take advantage of multi-species grazing. For instance, on smaller properties, pasturing cattle and sheep together can lower parasite levels in the latter. Cows consume the parasite larvae on plants that affect sheep. This does not harm cattle but helps keep sheep healthier.
With regenerative grazing, grassland recovery time may take months. Permaculture grazing recovery is usually a matter of weeks. Much depends upon the climate, amount of rainfall, soil conditions, and other variables.
Order 100% Grass Fed Steaks and Other Meats from Our Online Store
When you order 100% grass fed, grass finished beef from Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed, you know that the meat you receive is free from antibiotics and growth hormones and that the animal did not spend time in a feedlot consuming huge amounts of grain. That is what most health-conscious buyers want from their meat.
They can receive those benefits from cattle raised on permaculture grazing, but cattle raised via regenerative farming or ranching bring even more to the table, so to speak. These animals actively contributed to improving the soil health of the grasslands and pastures on which they roamed.
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