Livestock grazing is an important management practice on agricultural lands in the U.S. While grazing provides essential nutrients for livestock, it also contributes to nutrient cycling that builds healthy pasture soils. To increase soil tilth, graziers must manage their livestock to prevent overgrazing.

Three key principles apply here: grazing period (animals should not remain on pastures long enough to cause plant decline), recovery period (pastures need adequate rest after grazing to allow plants to fully recover before the next grazing period), and residual (leaving enough plant residue after grazing to allow for the plant to fully regrow and to provide adequate soil cover).

Managed grazing, i.e., following these three basic principles, fosters ecosystem integrity and resiliency and ensures optimum forage growth to maintain livestock productivity. These principles and more are discussed extensively here in the ATTRA grazing section.  

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Staff Expert

Justin Morris

Justin Morris

Healthy soil in hands
The Solar Shepherd with sheep grazing around solar array
Healthy soilUSDA NRCS
Nine species cover crop mixture.
group of women walking behind flock of sheep down a lane under trees
Woman walking small acreage field
Fence in green pasture