Rotational and Regenerative Grazing: What You Need to Know

what is rotational grazing

The grass fed beef movement is awesome in so many ways, but a major perk is its positive impact on the environment through practices like rotational grazing and regenerative grazing.

Q: What is rotational grazing?

A: We’ve talked about it a bit on this blog (like right here), but rotational grazing leverages high-intensity, low-frequency grazing techniques, concentrating large numbers of animals on certain fields and moving the animals frequently. This practice mimics what the buffalo did on the American Prairie for centuries. Buffalo would travel in large herds, grazing a portion of the land down to the ground before moving on. During this intensive grazing, they tilled the soil with their hooves and fertilized the soil with their waste.

Today, grass fed beef producers can do the same with help from portable fencing and in some cases, portable drinking water. These tools allow them to concentrate large numbers of cattle on small acreage, moving them frequently, and getting similar results. Rotational grazing leads to ideal pastures, which Beef Magazine describes as having fertile soil, healthy forage plants, no overgrazing, and water penetration.

Q: What is regenerative grazing?

A: Regenerative grazing is a fairly new term that has grown in popularity, but there has been confusion around what really it truly means. Essentially, regenerative grazing and rotational grazing can be used interchangeably, but the use of the word “regenerative” better expresses the idea that this grazing practice is part of the larger umbrella of “regenerative agriculture.” Regenerative agriculture is a buzzword, which is why people are using the term “rotational grazing” less and less.

Regenerative agriculture promotes:

  • Building soil’s organic matter and biodiversity
  • Healthier and more productive soil that is drought- and flood-resilient
  • Decreased use of chemical inputs and subsequent pollution
  • Cleaner air and water
  • Enhanced wildlife habitat
  • Capturing carbon in the soil to combat climate change

Q: What are the advantages of regenerative or rotational grazing?

A: Let’s talk about the soil part of regenerative agriculture, also known as regenerative (rotational) grazing.

Grass fed cattle contribute to environmental health through carbon sequestration, which is the process of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere and stored in soil. When cattle are grazed on a rotating schedule, soil is well-tilled and grasses grow quickly.

Cattle hooves till the earth and increase carbon content in the soil, promoting water retention and grass growth. Grasses then soak up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and shoot it down into the soil through their roots, keeping that CO2 trapped in the soil. Alternatively, when grasses are overgrazed, bare soil lets that carbon escape into the air.

The bottom line? Globally, if carbon in agricultural lands could be increased 10% through sequestration over the course of the 21st century, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere could be reduced by 110ppm.1 Regenerative agriculture practices like carbon sequestration can aid in reducing the carbon footprint of beef production and contribute to the reversal of global climate change.

Q: How else does grass fed beef production benefit the environment?

A: We’re glad you asked! The grass fed beef industry respects the natural cycles of the land, sun, and water supply.

Grass fed cattle are also expert upcyclers, meaning that they consume plant-based leftovers that are otherwise inedible to humans. Cattle take waste and turn it into high-quality, super delicious protein.

Don’t let us do all the talking—learn more about our USRSB certification. It’s a testament to our dedication to sustainability from a reputable third-party source.

Stock Delicious Grass Fed Beef with Roots in Regenerative Agriculture

The Grass Run Farms family’s mission is to achieve a more sustainable food supply while providing delicious, nutritious beef.

Click here to get in touch with a Grass Run Farms team member to learn more about the benefits of stocking our 100% grass fed beef.

1Lal, R. 2011. Sequestering carbon in soils of agro-ecosystems. Food Policy. 36(Suppl. 1):S33-S39.

First published October 29, 2020.