The answer to that question is a resounding yes. A grazier can affect the manner that nutrients are distributed in a pasture simply managing the grazing animals. All too often animals are placed in a given area of land, and grazed on that land in what is termed “continuous grazing.” Figure 1 shows cattle being continuously grazed; this is where animals are left in a designated area until the end of the grazing season, or until they run out of forage. This type of grazing management will lead to poor nutrient distribution from urine and feces, and will also result in the lowest utilization rate of pasture forages.
Proper grazing can return a significant amount of nutrients back to the field by way of nutrient cycling through the grazing animals urine and feces. A producer can greatly affect the distribution of those nutrients, simply by the method in which they manage the grazing animals. Research has shown that if grazing animals are forced to travel more than 600-900 feet to a water source, they will do so as an entire herd, versus going as an individual animal. When an entire herd goes to water at the same time, there is a higher chance that some animals maybe pushed away from the water and not allowed to drink, thus reducing animal performance due to insufficient water consumption. Also, if the grazing animals have to walk in an alley to get to the water source 15 – 20 percent of the manure is dropped in the alley and not in the pasture where it would be better utilized.