1984 - Volume #8, Issue #1, Page #24[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Savory Grazing System Challenged
The Savory System, featured in FARM SHOW 2 1/2 years ago (Vol. 6, No. 4, 1982) has been widely promoted in the U.S. and Canada the past several years. "It'll double the present carrying capacity of any ranch," maintains its developer Allan Savory, a range consultant in Rhodesia.
The pie-shaped or "wagon wheel" design of laying out pastures for rotation grazing is the most popular trademark of the Savory System. Water and working areas are arranged in the central hub of the wheel, with up to 40 or more pie-shaped grazing areas surrounding it.
It's the "wagon wheel mentality" of the Savory System which Jones and other grazing specialists in New Zealand challenge: "Biggest problem with it is that it isn't suited to hilly terrain. It overgrazes in the center of the wheel, and undergrazes the far edges. Plus, you end up with excessive foot paths," says Jones.
"If controlled grazing is practiced by New Zealand farmers could be transferred to existing cost and price standards in the U.S., America's grass farmers would be the wealthiest agriculturalists in the world. You use expensive machines to harvest your crops. Here, with higher land costs, lower prices for our products and lower profit margins to work with, animals are our machines. They move in to harvest a small area every day or two as cleanly and as completely as a forage chopper."
Clovers and modern electric fencing are the two key ingredients, says Jones, for efficient controlled grazing. "Clovers are to the New Zealand farmer what oil is to the Arabs," he quips.
He notes that, with easy to move electric fence, dairy, sheep, beef and deer producers in New Zealand move animals to new square or rectangular paddocks every day or two. "Generally, the shorter the duration, the greater the yield. Good dairy farmers, for example, leave animals on a small paddock for only 12 hours, which means that it's quickly grazed right to the ground and starts regrowing immediately. A leading sheep farmer, who in season moves his animals daily to a new paddock, has his 300 acre farm divided into 100 paddocks, all subdivided with electric fence.
Bob Patterson, marketing director for Snell Fencing System, a U.S. distributor of New Zealand-built Gallagher electric fencing products, notes that his company has about 200 dairy and beef producers throughout the United States on controlled grazing programs patterned after New Zealand's system.
For a copy of controlled grazing as Jones recommends it for livestock producers in the U.S. and Canada, contact: Bob Kingsbury, Marketing Director, Snell Systems, P.O. Box 17769, San Antonio, Texas 78217 (ph 512 494-5211).
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