Cell Grazing in Low Rainfall

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Video Transcript

We decided to set up cell grazing and it’s partly as a family succession plan. Our Lad being in a wheelchair since birth and he has a city wife who are both teachers now, but very keen to run sheep. or run the farm so we’re sort of setting it out with that in mind. We’re still seem to be getting nearly the same amount of rain, but it’s just coming a different time of year, won’t grow wheat.

How the Cell Grazing System Works

We were just wondering how does this grazing system actually work? We run on a cell with the cell grazing. We run to two cells and you have a number of paddocks in each cell. We actually run them 43 in cell 1, which is this one here. And basically it works. We mob the sheep into one mob. We run around 600 to 700 sheep per mob.

We actually run two mobs through cell one, and two or three of the other fields as well. There’s thirty paddocks in that one. We found we needed a minimum of thirty-two paddocks to get enough rest days on the system. The main thing is the rest days, not the amount of days in the paddocks.

We don’t ever graze more than fifty percent of the feed on offer. How large are each of the paddocks? The bigger products are up to around 80 hectares, and we go down to tens and twelves in where we’ve got intensive Saltbush. We finally get the better yields out the smaller paddocks. How long the stock are gonna stay in each of the paddocks?

Monitoring and Rotating Through Paddocks

It’s just a monitoring thing with a hundred and twenty days rest. We try and get through each paddock three times in a year. But it’s not set to that. If we’re having a good spring and something is really growing fast and I’ll feel it needs to be taken back to a stage two grass, rather than three getting too high and going to seed early, we’ll come back on them quicker.

And we’re trying to promote the native grasses if there’s a native grass that shows up again that is not very prevalent, we’ll miss a graze so it can actually seed.

Cell Grazing Chart Makes Monitoring Easy

Neil you’ve got your grazing chart here, so what are the benefits of actually using this chart?

Yeah, the main benefits is this, I know where the sheep are anytime and I can forward project where they are going to be. And I also manage the feed, I know if I’ve been in this paddock here in May. So in 120 days I’ve got to be looking at that to come back again. The different colors represent each mob that I’m running through there.

So how long do you spend keeping this up to date, Neil? I can probably do it in, I usually do it on the weekend and takes about ten minutes. In the end of each months, probably maybe a quarter a hour. So it’s a really good risk management tool? Yeah, it’s very good. It’s probably the heart of the system, if you do it properly, it’s definitely I think it’s the heart of the whole system and I’ll do forward project all ┬áthe time I know we have enough sheep or too many.

And always got some sheep that I can sell at a months notice if I need. We find with the system with a hundred and twenty days rest, we always get some rain in that period, and it always grows some feed before ten mls of rain wouldn’t grow us much feed, but now with this now with the extra feed cover we’re definitely getting feed on 10 ml of rain.

Neil Sleep discusses the cell grazing system he has developed on the family farm near Peterborough in the Upper North of South Australia with Michael Wurst from Rural Solutions SA. The dedicated use of a grazing management chart is the heart of the system. The success of the system is resting paddocks long enough, never allowing them to be grazed past the point of 50% feed on offer. This project is supported by Upper North Farming Systems, through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country, Eyre Peninsula NRM Board and Rural Solutions SA.

View the following videos in this series on use of perennial plant species and cell grazing in the low rainfall climate of the Upper North of South Australia:
Perennial shrubs for low rainfall farming.
Establishing perennial shrub pasture
Cell grazing — benefits and challenges
Biodiversity in low rainfall grazing systems of South Australia

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