Mob grazing: outwintering
Mob grazing in wet conditions has been highlighted by many farmers as a particular challenge due to fears, and outwintering is seen as pretty much impossible in areas of high rain fall due to fears about poaching.
So we asked Heather and Philip Close at Balsar Glen in South Ayrshire, Katharine Sharp at Achpopuli Farm in Inverness-shire, and Roger Dixon-Smith at the Sailean Project on the Isle of Lismore if they could share their top tips for outwintering in very wet conditions.
They shared their videos throughout January 2021; here are a few highlights!
Mob grazers on outwintering
Heather and Philip Close farm Aberdeen Angus and original population Hereford cattle, and last year they had about 60 inches of rain.
Philip started grazing in 2010 and says he “couldn’t see the economics of putting up another building, with the equipment and everything you need, so I thought I’d do the ‘undone’ and try to outwinter, grazing year-round. I had a lot of learning experiences, a lot of mistakes and we got there slowly, not as fast as we’d like”
Balsar Glen on outwintering:
Katharine Sharp explains her winter mob grazing system with sheep and how she uses a form of bale grazing that she calls ‘snail grazing’ as a land management tool, targeting specific areas with the aim of breaking up the Docken patch and adding more diversity.
Achpopuli Farm on outwintering:
Roger Dixon-Spain explains how they managed to extend their grazing season on areas that were previously very wet. Their goal in the future is to get through the winter without any supplementary feeding at all and they are using Holistic Planned Grazing to achieve this.
The Sailean Project on outwintering:
Listen to the farmers discussing all their outwintering experiences at our Q&A:
Outwintering across the rest of Scotland
Following on from the discussion about outwintering in wet conditions, other members of our mob grazing group based in slightly less wet areas of Scotland shared their videos on outwintering throughout February 2021 and then joined us for another Q&A.
Johnnie Balfour at Balbirnie Home Farms in Fife, Robert & Andrew Brewster at Easter Denoon Farm in Angus, and Sandra Baer & Lynn Cassells at Lynbreck Croft near Granton-on-Spey discuss their outwintering systems, including integrating cattle into an arable system, bale grazing methods and using tree hay.
Have a look at our Water, fencing and kit page for more info on managing infrastructure over winter.