Management-intensive grazing (MiG) is difficult to define because of its flexibility. Simply put, MiG is a systems approach to keeping grazing animals of all kinds. It starts with goals (environmental, economic, and lifestyle) and progresses to a grazing plan that takes your unique circumstances into account.
MiG has much to offer those who keep grazing animals. Benefits include:
- Reduction in feed costs.
- Desired animal performance.
- Pasture sustainability.
- Adaptability to changing conditions.
- Complete control of the grazing system.
MiG is often confused with rotational grazing. While rotating paddocks is indeed a key piece of the equation, MiG includes so much more. Rotations are simply a tool to reach the goals set by the grazier. Other important tools used in MiG are rest periods, stocking density, and forage stockpiling. Another key feature of the system is the way livestock nutritional needs are matched to the growth patterns of the available forages.
The general idea is to provide the livestock with enough forage in each paddock to meet their nutritional needs without damaging the plants’ ability to quickly recover and grow back. The animals are typically moved to a fresh paddock daily, sometimes more often, sometimes less often depending on their specific needs. Once they are removed from a paddock, the forage is allowed to rest and replenish itself. No animals are allowed to return to the old paddock until this has been fully accomplished.
Of course, this is just the beginning. MiG is an inexhaustible subject, and even the experts are still learning. Management-intensive grazing is one of those things that can only be mastered through experience. However, it can be adapted to all environments, and is designed to meet a wide variety of goals. MiG is a good fit for those pursuing a whole-farm approach.
Salad Bar Beef
Highly recommended book by Joel Salatin. Although Salatin does not use the term “management-intensive grazing,” the section titled “Harvesting the Salad Bar” presents the basic philosophies behind MiG in a very understandable manner. Read our full review.
Grazing System Design
A summary of how to put MiG to work from the University of Georgia.