Part One: Grazing Management Styles – MiG Grazing 

This is part one in a series of posts I will be doing on different grazing management styles.

There are all sorts of people out there using all sorts of words to describe different grazing techniques. One of them is MiG or Management Intensive Grazing. I’d like to talk about MiG grazing today.

MiG grazing is a system of grazing management. Many people in the US and across the world use MiG grazing to manage their livestock’s grazing behavior. MiG grazing is just that, a system. “All systems fail” is what I learned from Ian. Let me explain why I think MiG grazing is inadequate if you are interested in the long term profitability and sustainability of your ranch/farm.

MiG grazing gives you sets of rules or guidelines to follow. One of them is “turn cattle into fresh grass when the grass is in the 3 1/2 leaf or “boot” stage.” I’ve even written that in my free eBook. Well now my opinion has changed! They also suggest a number of paddocks you should have, the amount of time your cattle should be within those paddocks and how long your rotations should be. Really? They can tell you all of that without having stepped a foot on your property? Interesting.

As humans we enjoy things that are structured and ordered. The thing is we are not dealing with just humans when we are managing grazing livestock. We are dealing with nature and that means we are dealing with chaos. You cannot control chaos. There is no formula for everything to be perfect in a chaotic environment (the Earth).

Generally MiG grazing tells you to build larger paddocks (20-40 acres) and to leave your livestock in there for a predetermined amount of days. This might work in a climate controlled environment, but remember we are working within nature. What works in Iowa will not work in Montana. Most MiG grazing proponents are also in the Midwest. What about the folks to the east and west? Should they use the same formula? What about people on different continents?

The fact that it is called “Management Intensive Grazing” is also deceiving. I guess leaving your cattle in a paddock for 7 days is considered intensive management? This is probably true for people who come from the traditional ranching world of never moving cattle to new, fresh pasture. In reality, MiG grazing has low managerial time requirements (once a week).

While MiG grazing was a step in the right direction, away from continuous or “set stocking” livestock, it is not the holy grail of grazing management. No matter what people tell you or who says it, there is no formula for grazing. It’s your job to learn how to manage your animals and grass in order to keep your animals and land healthy and there isn’t a formula in the world that can help you achieve that. The only thing that can do that is your brain.

Are you starting to make some connections with all of this stuff? I think back to the post I wrote on the game reserve managers in Africa burning their land every year because “thats what you do.” Start realizing that every situation is unique and there is no formula!

If you are a long time follower of Ag Insights you might have noticed how MiG grazing never even mentions looking at the animal. Did I mention anything about animal performance when talking about MiG grazing? No. This is why people are getting into trouble financially with MiG grazing. They are looking at the land and can’t raise their head to look at the animal. Aren’t your livestock the ones making a living for you? Don’t forget about them.

Well, there you have it. My take on MiG grazing. Join me next time to explore another grazing management style, “Mob Grazing.”

Chris Stelzer

Chris Stelzer is a published Author, founder of Agricultural Insights and creator of many resources that help family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. His flagship courses are the Grazing Mastery Program and The Farm Marketing Mastery Program. 

Chris Stelzer

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