A Beef Magazine web article by Alan Newport shared the research done by Noble Foundation researcher Jeff Goodwin, which showed that there was more profit from planned grazing even if you ran fewer cows than your neighbors who are grazing conventionally. How much more profit? With planned grazing the average annual net profit was $1170 while conventional grazing resulted in a loss of $80.
This research took place on a USDA ARS (Agricultural Research Service) ranch near Riesel, Texas from 2012-2015. On the north 280 acres researchers experimented with planned grazing and multi-species cover crops. On the south 280 acres they maintained a conventional set-stock grazing program. In order to be able to implement the planned grazing on the north side of the ranch they cut the herd to 30 versus the 50 that ran on the south side. They also put in additional fencing to control grazing and planted cover crops. The cost for all these improvements still penciled out better than the set stocking.
|North Side||South Side|
|Annual Avg. Net Profit||$1,170||(-$80)|
|Annual Avg. Net Profit/acre||$4.16||(-28 cents)|
Goodwin notes that it takes about 3 years for an operation to see the soil benefits of implementing planned grazing and cover crops before you can then begin to realize greater profits through reduced inputs that are a result of improved soil fertility. Given that the stock density had only gotten to a little over 13,000 lbs per acre and the plans are to get it to 80,000 pounds per acre, the likely increase from improved soil fertility will be even greater–increasing profits on the north side even further.
To learn more about other results that people have achieved with planned grazing and cover crops, visit HMI’s Success Stories page.
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