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Ranching and Holistic Management Video Series: Episode 3

Our next video covers the importance of herd effect on grassland. We hope you’ll enjoy the video and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Abbey Smith is the Savory Global Network Coordinator and leads the Jefferson Hub with her husband, Spencer Smith.

Last week Abbey was in Zimbabwe for the Hub Leadership Bootcamp which is the training that all new hub leaders have to go through. While she was there, there was a conversation between Allan Savory and Jacob, one of the Hub leaders from Uganda, that caught her attention. Jacob was discussing herding techniques and why “herd effect” matters in Holistic Management. Herd effect is one of the tools we have to influence our ecosystem. Allan explained that in traditional pastoralist practices, the herd will bunch together and trample, produce dung, and urinate while they’re moving, which leads to the high-density herd effect. Since they are all tightly packed, they trample things in a higher density. But when they stop to graze, the herder typically will sit back and the cattle will spread out. When they spread out, they’re not having the same herd effect as when they’re moving and they’re trampling things, so you don’t get the impact you would on the land.

The thing that stood out the most from the conversation was when Allan described that fencing does not create herd effect. In the United States, we don’t typically use herding, we use fencing to control stock density. This means that we’re typically missing out on the traditional herd effect and thus, the beneficial impact it has on the land. So we (Spencer and Abbey) have talked about doing a little experiment this summer. We are going to try to herd for half an hour or 45 minutes each day within the fences that we have as part of our grazing plan in order for us to get the herd effect. We hope to see positive outcomes on the land and we look forward to sharing with you what outcomes we see!

Check out the other videos in our series here:

Ranching and Holistic Management Video Series Episode 1

Holistic Management and Ranching Video Series Episode 2