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 on pasture.
MiG starts with the grazier’s goals:
With these goals in mind, the process then 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.
- Improved animal performance.
- More even manure distribution.
- 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 involves matching livestock nutritional needs 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 typically move 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 return to the old paddock until plant recovery is complete.
One aspect of MiG that is sometimes off-putting is the term “management-intensive.” While this phrase was coined to combat the tendency to conflate “intensive grazing” with overgrazing, “management-intensive” can sound like a lot of work. On the contrary, the intensity is in the mind, not in the physical labor. Management in this case involves goal-setting, planning, observation, and adjustment.
This overview is just the beginning. MiG is an inexhaustible subject, and even the experts are still learning. Management-intensive grazing is one of those things you can only master 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.
Intensive Grazing: An Introductory Homestudy Course
An excellent hands-on crash course on the basics of MiG. Includes concise information, a field exercise, and more.
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.
Grazing Systems Planning Guide
Not about MiG specifically, but includes more information that will answer some of your questions on setting up a practical system from start to finish.
Grasses of Kansas
Need to know how to manage the forage in your pasture? Our guide to grasses includes some pointers.