3 Day High Density Mob Grazing School

Taught by Ian Mitchell Innes
South African Holistic High Density Rancher & Certified Holistic Educator
Hosted By Hugo & Liz Klopper, Bear River Valley Beef
May 16th-18th

Mob Grazing in South Africa
A beautiful shot of one of Ian's cattle farms in South Africa
Ian M. Innes
Ian M. Innes

Ian will teach us:

  1. How to use MOB grazing as a tool to improve the land.
  2. How to manage livestock & land for profitability.
  3. How to build our soils using proper grazing methods.
  4. Harvesting the Energy While Feeding the Whole (Animal, Soil & Soil Surface).

Ian will be covering all the critically important steps in implementing high density planned grazing. Livestock alone can heal your land & build your soils. It does take proper management to achieve this. Learn how to stop giving your hard earned money to the input folks.

Cost: $600/person or Couples $400/person. Lunch included each day.
Send payment to: Bear River Valley Beef, 4415 Upper Bear River Rd, Ferndale, CA 95536
For more information call 707-786-9460

Conference Location: Eureka, Humboldt County, Northern California

Hotel Accomodation options to follow shortly.

Ian Mitchell-Innes Bio:

Ian has been practicing Holistic Management for 20 years on his ranch in South Africa. He has made mistakes and wishes to share with Ranchers and Farmers how to avoid these costly mistakes He teaches Farmers and Ranchers how to FEED the whole - Grass,Animal,Soil surface,Sub soil,using animals at High and Ultra High Stock Density (Mob Grazing).

Subjects covered in workshop are:


Before committing yourself to any change in grazing, take out a pen and calculator and work out which form of Grazing you can afford. You will be doing a “Marginal Reaction”. Which form of grazing costs you the least to achieve what you want (in terms of improving the soil) and getting animal performance.

Energy is Money, Money is Energy, Time is Money, Water is Money

Any supplementation given to Livestock, is a crutch to help you through a change, be it Environmental or Physical. It is to make sure you do not loose animal performance, while you the manager and animals, are going through a learning curve.

There is increasing evidence, that since the advent of barbed wire, we have managed in such a way that we have reduced effectiveness of our soils. The result being the plants growing on those soils do not capture the amount of Energy from the Sun which used to be captured. The loss of these plants is not as dramatic as we thought it might be, as Nature knew we were going to mess up and the seeds of those good Energy capturing plants are still in and on the soil.

We need to change the Environment at soil surface level. This can be achieved with livestock, by emulating what happened in the past, before man intervened with a rifle and barbed wire.

Some of the things we have learnt are:

  1. The bigger the herd, the better the animals do, the quicker the soil is restored.
  2. The more Carbon/plant material trodden onto/into the soil, the better soil does.
  3. We need to manage the livestock to make sure the soil is covered with growing plants or litter, to keep soil at more constant temp. & feed life in the soil.
  4. We also know that selection of grazing makes animals perform (fat).
  5. This is all achieved with Time and Timing.

If you do not get animal performance you will go broke!

Mark Bader of Free Choice Enterprises.  A Holistic Approach to Managing Livestock Production.

Mark will be a guest Speaker at the 3 day conference.

The idea of feeding vitamins and minerals "free choice" came about by a need to decrease overconsumption, while improving livestock nutrition and performance. Because we understand that each livestock operation is located and functions within their own unique environment, we provide custom ration balancing to develop personalized supplementary feed regimens to overcome imbalances in confinement feeding and grazing, optimize dietary intake to improve nutritional balance, and maximize livestock performance and output within a preset feed management system.

You can visit Mark’s website at www.freechoiceminerals.com

Soil Health and Fertility

The following information is provided by Ridge Shinn, who has studied under Ian Mitchell Innes. Ridge Shinn has recently founded Big Picture Beef to build the supply of grass-fed beef in the Northeast, U.S.A. The company’s mission is to establish an environmentally sustainable and economically viable model of producing beef through managed grazing—no feedlots and no grain, ever. Big Picture Beef is producing Northeast grass-fed beef for Northeast customers. The benefits of this program will be nutrient-dense foods; carbon sequestration, soil fertility and biodiversity; energy savings; and a revitalized rural economy in the region.

The Soil Food Web
Proper grazing management enhances the soil food web and the natural systems that create fertility and functional soil structure. 

Once a piece of land has become healthy and fertile, it can be used for cropland in rotation with pasture for livestock; crop yields will be more abundant than could be expected on land that has not been managed by rotational grazing.  Studies have shown that rotational grazing produces more herbage biomass than one all-season paddock or non-grazing, and that the additional herbage translates into increased weight gain of livestock that are grazed in a rotation rather than conventional  grazing.


Though providing soil nutrients to plants involves complex chemical processes, the basic pasture management goals are simple: to establish deep-rooted plants, and to foster abundant soil life, of which mycorrhizal fungi and associative bacteria are key. The same grazing practices that increase  fertility also increase carbon sequestration, which is the precursor to fertile soil.  Microbes will convert the carbon to humus.

When energy from the sun begins photosynthesis, carbon is channeled into the plant’s roots. Deep roots, in addition to providing mechanical support, transfer between 5% and 21% of all the photosynthetically fixed carbon to the soil, well below the surface. In a two-way transfer that utilizes a microbial “bridge,” the roots also allow water/nutrient uptake for healthy plant growth.

This bidirectional flow happens through a symbiotic relationship between plants and mycorrhizal fungi.  The fungi link with the cell walls of the plant roots and grow into them, creating structures that allow for the transfer of nutrients between the plants and the soil. Carbon flows out from the plant host to the fungi on the roots. The fungi have long hyphae that can extend several yards into the soil to access and exchange carbon for minerals.  The soil minerals, which are essential to plant health, are then transferred from the fungi to the plant. And the cycle continues as these nutrients  in turn facilitate an elevated rate of photosynthesis and increased production of carbon.

Micorrhyzal fungie
Micorrhyzal fungi and associated bacteria are critically  important to nutrient transfer and soil fertility.

The fungi can become the primary organ acquiring mineral nutrients for the plant. These nutrients are phosphorous, organic nitrogen, and calcium, as well as trace elements such as zinc, boron, and copper, and plant growth stimulating substances.

But this critical bidirectional flow between plants and the soil is often hindered by conventional agricultural practices, including (1) soil disturbance, such as plowing, (2) application of nitrogen or water-soluble phosphorous, and (3) application of herbicides and pesticides that kill essential soil microbes. When the carbon supply becomes limited by the loss of this primary pathway for sequestration, soil loses its physical, chemical, and biological functions, and this causes mineral depletion in food. The extent of this nutrient decline in food over decades has been documented by a study in the UK.

Other important sources of fertility are (1) manure, which the cattle spread evenly over the land, and which supplies microorganisms as well as soil nutrients, (2) weed residues and green manures that decompose, and (3) the root material that the plants shed when they are grazed in order to re-establish equilibrium between their root and leaf areas.

Soil Structure and Water Retention

A recent study conducted by the USDA NRCS (National Resource Conservation Service) illustrates the dramatic difference in water infiltration capacity on land managed by rotational grazing as opposed to cropland or land managed by conventional grazing. A video of an experiment on three South Dakota fields representing these three scenarios showed that the same amount of water took 31 minutes to infiltrate the cropland soil, 7 minutes to infiltrate conventionally grazed pasture, and 10 seconds to infiltrate soil managed by rotational grazing. See the 6-minute video from the NRCS here.

A key to the soil health and water retention capacity of the land managed by rotational grazing is the abundance of soil microbes, notably the Glomales fungi. Glomalin is made by Glomales fungi as part of their stress response. High levels of carbon dioxide levels in the air stimulate the fungi to produce glomalin.  These fungi colonize plant roots and make a protective waxy coat out of glomalin that improves water infiltration and water retention in the soil and keeps soil carbon from escaping. Glomalin lasts 7 to 42 years, depending on conditions. The production of glomalin has been linked to grazing.

Glomalin holds 27 percent of the soil’s stored carbon.  Discovered in 1996, it is a glycoprotein, bound together with iron and other ions.  It permeates organic matter, storing it in both its protein and carbohydrate sub-units, and is 30-40% carbon.

Lush Pasture
Healthy soil results in lush pasture that can withstand drought.

Glomalin also glues together silt, sand, or clay soil particles, forming large granules or aggregates that improve soil condition, providing  what is commonly known as “tilth.” Aggregates protect soils from the eroding forces of winds and water. Previously  plowing was thought to increase tilth, but now it is understood that soil disruption actually contributes to soil compaction and that no-till practices increase soil glomalin.

A 2013 study of three grazing scenarios and three cropland scenarios found the highest concentration of glomalin in native grassland pastures managed by rotational grazing.

This will be a rare opportunity for ranchers and farmers in the beef and sheep business to attend Ian’s class on the West Coast... You won’t want to miss!

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