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Mob Grazing vs. Holistic Land Management "Planned Grazing"?

 
Andre Lasle
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Location: Mille Lacs, MN
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I just attended the Voices conference and was left slightly disappointed and confused from Allan Savory.
I really looked forward to his Keynotes- and they were good.

He made a specific point to state that Mob-grazing, Management Intensive grazing is NOT sustainable and is DIFFERENT from "Planned Grazing"?
He did not clearly specify what the difference is?

Isn't Joel Salatin's model "Planned Grazing"? Wouldn't it also be Management-intensive grazing?

Anyone able to clearly differentiate the two for me and help me understand why one is superior to the other?
 
Gabe New
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Mob grazing is just one tool, it's not a year 'round plan,and with good reason because it's not the way ruminants behave all year. As to MIG not being sustainable, I'd love to hear why it isn't. Certainly, the way some people do it it isn't… but by definition it simply means that the management (not necessarily the grazing) is intensive. As such, you could be using Holistic Management in your grazing, so without hearing his speech anything else that I could say would just be arguing semantics out of context.
 
Julia Winter
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Yes, I was also a little confused. I think it's kind of like some leaders moving away from the word "permaculture" because they don't like all of the associations that have built up with the term.

My impression is that Alan Savory came up with rotational grazing as a term, but other people are doing things that he doesn't like and calling it rotational grazing. He wants to be very clear that his thing is a whole philosophy and outlook, and you can't just take some pieces, some techniques, out of it.

I got the feeling that various sides were setting up straw men and knocking them down. I think whatever Greg Judy is doing is highly effective and he's been doing it enough years with such good results it would be hard to say he's missing something.

It was a little funny, because Alan co-opted Geoff's analogy of permaculture being a wardrobe full of hangers and clothes (OK, it could be Bill Mollison used that analogy first) and told us that holistic management is the wardrobe, with various grazing techniques just hangers inside the wardrobe. I was imagining a silly argument: "holistic management is part of permaculture!" "No! Permaculture is part of holistic management!"

Who knows, I think it just depends on your worldview. I need to learn much more about holistic management. I was having a hard time distinguishing the basic philosophy from Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: #2 - "Begin with the End in Mind."
 
Michael Cox
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Go back to the source and read Savory's book "Holistic Management: A New Framework For Decision Making".

I too was puzzled by exactly these things, but the book makes it really really clear. Savory is trying to establish "Holistic Management" as an approach that can be used to manage any complex system, not just livestock on pasture. He takes into account much more than the state of the grass and the state of the cows, pulling in factors such as people available, equipment, water and nutrient cycles... but also social factors, long term planning (eg how do you want to hand over the land to your children), lifestyle choices etc...

His criticisms of things like mob grazing are that they lead to reductionist thinking and miss the bigger picture - you focus on managing the animals but miss the broader impact on social structures. A mob grazing system managed by one person, such that they have to be there every day, twice a day, forever is doomed to fail. Where are the considerations of holidays? Family impact? training new staff? Local communities?

Hence when he says Manage Holistically he really is talking about managing the WHOLE of a system - a point missed by others.

Writing this has sparked a connection between another book I love... "A Town Like Alice" by Nevil Chute. Set in central Australian in cattle ranching country. The town is dying because the women are leaving, the men can't find work so upsticks and move to the city... By looking at the whole of the problem the situation gets turned around... a small workshop employing women opens in town and starts a snowball for the whole community. Mob grazing wouldn't address a problem like this but Holistic Management would.
 
Julia Winter
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My point exactly. You could say the same thing in terms of permaculture. I think it depends on which big book you've read first.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Holistic Management is different form Permaculture in that it gives a specific framework for managing a complex system. Permaculture is more of an approach, a way of observation and interpretation, but not a framework, IMO.

I can see where mob grazing without a holistic view would not be sustainable. In my climate, you could mo graze for 3, maybe 4 months out of the year when there is grass growing. For the rest of the year, if you continued to mob graze, you'd kill both the land and animals.

It should be noted that Savory didn't invent rotational grazing. He came up with the solid framework to apply tools like rotational grazing, fire, mechanical impact, etc.
 
J D Horn
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My impression was that Savory meant that grazing should (must) be planned, as opposed to routinized (thus his comment about US ranchers asking whether they should rotate cattle clockwise or counterclockwise). And like in permaculture, that grazing plan has to adjust to feedback. Plan the work, then work the plan, so to speak. MiG, rotational grazing, set stocking, etc. are practices, not plans.
 
R Scott
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This is (mostly male) human nature--to get lost in the trees, to worry about the tactics or mechanics--and lose sight of the big picture or the real goal.
 
Ignacio Joannon
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Location: Concón, Valparaiso, Chile
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I'm very interested in Allan Savory's HM, and have his books waiting. Then I found this All Sizzle and No Steak, that questions and brings some concerns to these ideas.



 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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The studies that the Slate article are based on are not comprehensive. They tested rotational grazing, not Holistic Management, which goes beyond just moving animals around. It's kinda what this thread is about. Holistic Management is a framework for making decisions as they pertain to a managed whole, whereas rotational grazing is a tool. Slate also ignores the numerous other studies that show positive results of HM.

Here's a discussion of those studies: http://planet-tech.com/blog/regarding-holechek-savory

Do a web search for Holistic Management Case studies to see HM in action.

 
Ignacio Joannon
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Location: Concón, Valparaiso, Chile
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Thanks Abe, I'll investigate further.
 
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