WSBDF is the first school in the country to teach Management-Intensive Rotational Grazing (MIRG or “managed grazing” for short). The profitability of managed grazing systems has proven very competitive compared with confinement systems. Grazing is the approach to farming that we know best, and we also believe that it is a perfectly tailored system for beginning farmers.
In a managed grazing system, a farmer divides his or her pasture into sections called paddocks and moves animals from one paddock to another with the object of moving into each paddock when the grasses are most nutritious and palatable. WSBDF students learn how to plan for herd size, paddock size, paddock layout, and grazing periods in order to maximize efficiency in a grazing system. Students also have ample opportunities to learn from experienced grazers who have made it work on their own farms.
The managed grazing model fits beginning farmers because of its relatively low startup costs compared with investing in heavy machinery for growing grain as feed. The environmental benefits of managed grazing also make it an attractive system that lends itself to emerging markets and price premiums for organic or grass fed livestock.
According to Michael Klinker, a graduate of the program who started a pasture-based dairy farm, “I knew very little about grazing when I went to Madison, and now after I’ve done it on my operation for three and a half years, I wouldn’t do it any other way. I firmly believe that grass-based is a very competitive way to succeed in the dairy industry.”