Mob grazing: a nature-based solution for British farms producing pasture-fed livestock

Wagner, Markus ORCID:; Waterton, Claire; Norton, Lisa R.. 2023 Mob grazing: a nature-based solution for British farms producing pasture-fed livestock. Nature-Based Solutions, 3, 100054. 11, pp.

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Mob grazing is a nature-based solution to boost sustainable livestock productivity by optimising pasture management. It is already used widely in North America, and is now also receiving increased attention in the United Kingdom. In spite of this, its implementation by British farmers has so far remained largely unexplored. To close this gap, we studied how and why mob grazing is being adopted by British pasture-fed beef farmers. Field-level grazing management information was collected on 15 farms and analysed using cluster analysis and ordination analysis, showing the diversity of practices and establishing a gradient of mob grazing implementation. Farmer interviews explored general farming context, and rationale and motivations underpinning each farmer's grazing approach. Four main rotational approaches were identified at the field level: (1) conventional non-mob stocking by farmers still in the initial stages of discovering mob grazing; (2) mob stocking, involving reduced grazing duration at increased stocking densities, with pasture rest periods similar to those used in rotational non-mob stocking; (3) mob grazing, involving similar stocking densities as in mob stocking, but allowing for longer rest periods; and based on one early adopter of mob grazing practices in our sample (4) intensive mob grazing using very high stocking densities and frequent cattle movement, allowing for even longer rest periods. Interviews revealed the shift to mob grazing as a gradual process of farmer adaptation, involving the need to overcome constraints such as fencing and water access. Some early adopters amongst our sample of farmers observed various benefits to sustainability of livestock production, soil and ecosystem health, and animal health. We found much variation across farms, partly due to farmers adopting mob grazing gradually. Also, many farmers in our sample, in varying degree, were influenced by holistic grazing approaches. The ‘systems’ basis underlying such approaches, and variation in mob grazing implementation, mean that interdisciplinary and longer-term investigations may be most appropriate for exploring mob grazing effects. This is also illustrated by a case study involving long-term data from one intensively mob grazed farm.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2772-4115
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: mob grazing journey, mob stocking, pasture-fed livestock, regenerative agriculture, socio-ecological complexity, sustainable productivity
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 25 Jul 2023 16:28 +0 (UTC)

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