In many areas of the world, grazing animals, from cattle and sheep to water buffalo or reindeer, are an important source of food. It is a way to use land which is inappropriate for agriculture, while at the same time preserving a fairly natural backdrop. In some areas, greed or necessity have caused people to put more livestock on land than is sustainable. This generally leads to erosion and loss of useful habitat, which soon hurts the ranchers as well as the environment (and anyone downstream). For this reason, some environmentalists like to whine about the evils of grazing and how it should be abolished. But this isnt really a good solution. Grass, by nature, is evolved for grazing, and the sudden removal of grazing would drastically alter many ecosystems, some of which have been grazed by livestock for thousands of years. In many cases, a simple reduction in the number of animals is the only thing which can help land. But often, it is not how many animals, but how the animals are grazed which is important.

For inspiration on how best to graze your land, you can look to simple ecology. Naturally, large herds of buffalo (in America) or other animals once roamed the land. As a herd passed through an area it intensively grazed the land. After much of the food was gone, the herd moved on, allowing the land to recover. This is an excellent approach to use in grazing of cattle or other livestock. If animals are moved around frequently, many more can sustainably supported on the land without damaging it. True, this requires more space for grazing, but in the long run it will pay off. Also important is the timing of grazing... livestock should graze after the land has dried a bit, to reduce mud formation and erosion. Also, the animals can be moved away during important times for native wildlife.

another possibility is the use of different animals. In America, buffalo are less damaging to the land, require less care from ranchers, and their meat is tasty and healthier than cow meat. Unfortunately people dont eat it because they think buffalo are 'endangered'. In reality, eating buffalo meat creates demand, which will cause more ranchers to herd buffalo. So, next time you see a buffalo burger on some fancy restaraunt's menu, give it a try.

or, you could go vegan. But that's not something i plan on doing any time soon.

Animals chow down on vegetation using different methods, so it is important to make sure you have the right methods for your animals or the right animals for your fields.

If you have heavy overgrown vegetation, either for a field or in a lightly wooded area, cattle or buffalo would be a poor choice to let loose. These animals are grazers, content with keeping their heads down and chomping on grasses and then taking a half-step and eating that next lump of grass. They do not like weeds or other plants, although they will eat them if food is scarce. Horses are also grazers, but they're even more picky about what they eat. You wouldn't feed cow-quality bales of hay to your horses, and the horse bales come at a premium.

In this case, you want opportunistic grazers like goats. They'll chow down on bushes and weeds, then skippety-jump twenty meters to the next most succulent-looking plants they can see. They'll clear out underbrush fast. When that layer is gone, they'll go through again and eat the not-as-tasty stuff. Finally, they'll eat the lowly grass if that's all there is. One has to be careful because goats can clear a field down to bare dirt, which is bad for soil erosion.

Many farmers and ranchers will set goats into an overgrown pasture to get rid of weeds and brush, then migrate them to the next pasture and move the cattle and horses in to the vacated field. Lots of tasty grasses are available to the grass-eaters, plus now that the sunlight can get to the ground level it will help the grass to grow in nice and thick.

In many urban areas folks will rent out a herd of goats to clear out overgrown lots and properties without spraying toxic chemicals where kids (the human variety) may be playing. For pedantic folks who are interested, personally grazing your land will cause you to have stomach issues due to not having the enzymes, gut bacteria, and extra tummies needed to digest grass.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.