Dick Richardson on Why You Need to Reconsider High Density Grazing

Are you always using high density grazing? Dick Richardson thinks you need to reconsider your grazing practices.

High Density Grazing

Dick Richardson

Walt Davis






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Transcription Summary

Hey everyone, Chris Stelzer from AgriculturalInsights.com again. Remember, this is the place where you learn from real farmers and ranchers. That’s right. I interview real farmers and ranchers, giving you practical knowledge that you can go ahead and use in your endeavors in sustainable agriculture and permaculture and whatever you want to call it these days. But, yeah, it’s all the same thing. So, today, in case this is the first video you’ve seen, I do long interviews with people that are usually about 60 minutes long, and maybe you don’t have the time to listen to all of those interviews. So I’m just going to summarize interviews. So this is another interview summary from Agricultural Insights, and this summary I’m going to talk about Dick Richardson.Dick Richardson used to live in Africa and he moved to Australia, and he is ranched on those two different continents. He’s also a holistic management educator, high density grazing practitioner, a holistic management facilitator, but first and foremost he’s a farmer. So that’s fantastic. He’s got the actual practical skills and know-how in addition to being able to teach holistic management. So it’s just fantastic. But, man, this interview. He really changed my mind on some things, especially grazing management. He has a very different way at looking at grazing management. A lot of us in sustainable grazing management or holistic management or regeneration agriculture know that high density grazing has its benefits. But Dick Richardson argues maybe we’re overusing high density grazing and we need to back off a little bit. So I kept pressing him, “Dick, what do you mean? What does the management actually look like here?” And what he said was that he uses random events on his farm. And it just comes back to thinking about what would happen in nature, what would these wild herds of herbivores be doing. Would they be grazing a 2-acre, 3-acre, 4-acre paddock every day in the same rotation year after year. So in other words, on August 30th you’re always in the same spot every year? No.

Wild herbivores would most likely not be doing that every year. So like I said, he uses these random events so maybe he’ll confine all his animals into really tight spaces for a few hours using his dogs. And then he’ll just let them go, and he’ll give them a huge paddock where they can comfortably graze. They’re all spread out, there’s no worries. The nutrition profile of the grasses or the forbs or the pastures is really high. There’s no really un-selective grazing; all the animals are allowed to select what they want to graze. And then he also has paddocks that he’ll just rest for an entire year, just no grazing at all. Maybe he’ll rest them for a year or a little bit longer. And then he’s got priority paddocks which, if I remember, he grazes the plants when they’re in a very vegetative state, and then maybe the next time he’ll just completely back off and let those paddocks rest again for a year or so. He also has, I think, what I refer to as the resting areas for a year, he calls those strategic resting camps. So, he plans all this out using his holistic management grazing. It’s just a big sheet in case you’re not familiar with it. It’s like a big sheet that you can use for planting your grazing management. It’s a great tool.

And then he had something else interesting to say about animal performance. And animal performance is how well the animal is doing, the rate of gain, the amount of milk they’re producing if you’re doing a dairy, how healthy the animal is, that’s the most important thing. And he said that animal performance and stock density go hand in hand. So generally speaking, and this isn’t true for everyone, when you increase the density, animal performance usually goes down. And it makes sense because the animals can’t graze as selectively. Right. So I’ll leave it at that, but that’s my interview with Dick Richardson in a nutshell. There’s a lot more to it. Go over to AgriculturalInsights.com for more. Again, I’m Chris Stelzer. Thank you for watching, and I hope to see you around Agricultural Insights, and please stop by and say, ‘Hi.’ We’ll see you next time.

Dick Richardson Bio

Dick’s email

Dick Richardson is internationally certified with HMI and SI as a Holistic Management Educator and has been since 1995. Dick has trained, facilitated and consulted with many farming businesses around the world, including the US, UK, Aus and all the Southern African countries. He trained educators for HMI for many years too both in the US and in Africa especially in the areas of ecology and grazing management.
Dick Richardson
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  • Evan Young

    We were fortunate to spend half a day with Dick earlier this year. Take note people, this is an extremely intelligent and capable farmer

    • ChrisStelzer

      Thanks Evan, I think Dick has so much more to offer, we need to do another (or 3) podcasts! Thanks again Dick it was awesome!

  • ChrisStelzer

    I’m glad you got something out of it. This is why I love doing what I do. RIght when you think you might have something figured out, someone like Dick comes along and changes everything.