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Get out of ‘defense mode’ with your next grazing plan

Plan the work, then work the plan to achieve more on your regenerative ranch.

Most ranchers carry a good grazing plan in their heads, executing with a combination of intuition built on experience, an understanding of regional trends and an adaptivity to circumstances.

But if you need to solve a significant problem or are ready to take aim at a new ideal like regenerative or adaptive grazing, it’s time put a proactive grazing plan on paper, Noble Research Institute Regenerative Ranching Advisor Steve Swaffar says.

“There is a heavier commitment to reach a goal you’ve written down,” he says. Writing a grazing plan on paper can feel uncomfortable, but “frankly, a good goal should make you nervous.”

For a more experienced rancher, building an ambitious grazing plan may be the slight push you need to make progress in the year ahead. For a beginning rancher or someone grazing a new piece of land, it’s an offensive plan to help navigate the unknown.

Either way, Swaffar says, “When you start putting the plan to paper, it opens all these ‘ah-ha’ moments.”

1. Start with your goals in mind

Every good grazing plan begins with a specific goal or goals.

If you worry every year about buying an unsustainable amount of hay, spend too much money on external inputs, or see an invasive species reducing your forage production, Swaffar says it’s time to meet the problem head-on by starting with a grazing goal and plan.

“These are the questions that have to stop us and make us ask, ‘How am I going to get through this?’” Swaffar says. “Well, I’ve got to sit down and make a plan, set some goals to solve the problem.”

Along the way, you may uncover new opportunities as well.



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