Management Intensive Grazing
Management-intensive Grazing (MIG) refers to several grazing systems wherein animals are allowed to graze only a small portion of the pasture (an individual paddock) while other paddocks are rested and allowed to recover. By rotating the pasture in a MIG system, Georgia farmers can make more efficient use of their land than if they continually keep animals in one large pasture (i.e., continuous stocking). Management-Intensive Grazing systems, of which there are many variations, can increase the yield of animal products per acre and, in most cases, net profit per farm. These pasture systems and forages are a part of sustainable agricultural systems.
The optimum MIG system provides the following major advantages:
- Daily intake of forage and supplemental feed is more efficiently rationed.
- Pasture plants are allowed to adequately recover between grazings and are therefore more persistent.
- Pasture yield is increased and the distribution of the forage is improved.
- Cost of machinery, fuel, and facilities are reduced.
- Animal waste and, therefore, soil quality and fertility are more uniformly distributed.
As with any system, there are some limits to MIG systems. The most obvious limiting factor is the need for cross-fencing. Complex pasture shapes often make the sub-dividing of pastures difficult and expensive.
Secondly, water availability is often a limiting factor. Since adequate drinking water is needed to meet the animal's daily requirement as well as serving as a mechanism for moderating body temperature, each paddock must have accessible water. Certainly, a steady labor supply will also be needed to routinely rotate the animals to new paddocks. Thus, the availability of labor is a third limiting factor. Finally, MIG requires a significant amount of management skill, as the manager must understand how, why, and when to rotate the animals to a new pasture, adjust the stocking density, adjust the supplementation rate, and manipulate forage growth in individual pastures.
In this website, the basic principles of MIG are outlined and essential concepts are described. The purpose of this website is to promote the use of MIG systems, provide information about MIG, and highlight the successes of MIG practitioners in Georgia.
The University of Georgia has a very strong forage program. Follow the links below to learn more about various aspects of forage systems.
If you are looking for additional information on management intensive grazing, please see our Resources page to find other publications and useful tools.