New Project to Research Benefits of Grazing System

An exciting UK-wide research project looking into the economic and environmental benefits of different grazing systems has begun.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is supporting a new research project with Bangor University that will investigate the impact of mob grazing on animal performance, costs of production, soil properties and greenhouse gas emissions. The work is carried out at Glynllifon farm in north-west Wales, a well-established agricultural college that lends itself perfectly for broad engagement with the wider industry. The work at Glynllifon will complement a Defra funded project that is being delivered by ADAS in England.

Effective grassland management is at the heart of improving the overall resilience of Welsh beef and sheep farms. Mob grazing is a form of grazing management system where specific numbers of animals graze an area of land for a short period of time and are then rotated throughout a number of paddocks. This allows for a ‘recovery period’ for pastures to re-grow as opposed to being continuously grazed under a conventional set-stocked approach.

An increased number of farmers in Wales have turned to mob grazing systems due to reported productivity benefits, but the wider economic and environmental cost-benefits are largely unknown.

This collaborative project will investigate these to provide Welsh and UK farmers with the evidence needed to demonstrate how this management system can improve productivity while enriching the environment.

Rhodri Manod Owen, Farm and Forest Manager at Glynllifon explains, “The overall aim of this project is to assess the practical, economic and environmental implications of transitioning from a conventional set-stock or rotational grazing system to mob grazing.

“The project will be able to identify whether a greater uptake of mob grazing practices is practical and economically beneficial for UK farming compared to set-stocking of livestock. It will also seek to identify any issues and benefits and whether there are any wider impacts of mob grazing systems, including its effect on soil, air and water quality, biodiversity, carbon storage and animal health and welfare.”

HCC will support Bangor University and Glynllifon in delivering this project, and Nia Davies, HCC Research and Development Officer adds, “HCC is delighted to be part of this research project and is looking forward to be working with Bangor University and Glynllifon. With no UK-based evidence of the productivity and environmental impacts of mob grazing, this project will deliver very timely and important work as we seek to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of our livestock systems.”

The UK wide project started in May 2021 and will run for three years across a total of nine farm sites.

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.