Yes, There Is A Thing As Too Much Litter 

Yeap. You heard it here first. Although I didn’t come up with the idea. It happened while talking to Mark Bader and Ian Mitchell-Innes the other day. We were talking about grazing of course, and I asked a question about litter. I said something to the effect of “When it comes to putting litter on the ground, isn’t more better?” Mark laughed at me and said “NO!” This was a typical Mark response and Ian and I had a good laugh.

Mark explained why there is such a thing as too much litter in an easy to understand way. He said putting too much litter down can be harmful for several reasons. They are:

  • Too much litter is actually a mulch, inhibiting the growth of grass plants that are below this mulch
  • Shades out the lower portions of other grasses that haven’t been put down as litter, reducing their growth
  • Shades out the soil surface which again prevents new grass plants from forming
    • Because of this shading, plant spacing increases which is a bad thing
  • By putting down too much litter you are using less of your grass for grazing, thereby reducing the numbers of animals you can run on your land which leads to you making less money

You might be asking yourself if I’m crazy at this point. If you’ve been following this website for a while you know I always talk about litter and I love it! However, there can be “too much of a good thing.” If you are really observant you will have noticed how I seemed to contradict myself when I said “Shades out the soil surface which again prevents new grass plants from forming.” Haven’t I been telling you to cover the soil surface!? Yes, I have. However, the difference between 6-8 inches of litter vs 1-2 inches of litter is HUGE! Grass seedlings can poke their way up through a 1 inch litter bank. They have a very difficult time coming up though 6-8 inches or as we more commonly call it, mulch.

Why do you mulch your garden? To prevent weeds! The thick layer of grass is acting as a mulch and nothing can grow in that area. So, there is a balance when putting down litter on the soil surface. Many people have been bitten by the high density grazing bug. I’m one of them, but you need to balance everything to be successful. Let’s take a look at the differences in pictures that I’ve drawn.

Here is an example of too much litter!

Too Much Litter
Here is an example of the ideal amount of litter!

Correct Amount of Litter







As my drawings clearly illustrate there is such a thing as too much litter. Next time you are thinking about high density grazing or mob grazing, consider among the many other things you need to be thinking about, the amount of litter you are putting on the ground. Remember, there can be too much of a good thing. Grazing is an art form, try to master it!

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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