Rotational grazing is a system of grazing where only one section of pasture is grazed while other sections rest (source). This is accomplished by subdividing land into smaller grazing sections called paddocks. Animals are kept on a single paddock for a time, but are moved regularly. Resting paddocks / segments of the pasture allows forage to regrow and roots to grow deeper. To maximize pasture growth, the length of time the animals spend on each paddock changes with the seasons, type of pasture and growth rate of the forage.
Rotational grazing applies mostly to animals that consume grass and forbs (non-woody plants such as dandelion, clover) as their primary feed, for example cows, sheep, goats and bison. Interestingly, farmers frequently graze different species in succession, like cattle in a paddock followed by chickens. Moving your chickens through pasture behind cattle allows them to scratch through the cowpies - which they do to dig out fly larvae and other bugs - while also breaking up cowpies across the pasture and further distributing nutrients.
It is important to note that in some climates, keeping animals grazing on pasture year round would be destructive to the land due to cold, wet or snowy conditions. If grazed in these conditions, pastures are likely to be demolished, plants trampled, and soil erosion would begin to occur. For the health of the land - a priority for sustainable farming practices - farms may keep their animals in contained pastures or barns over the winter, feeding animals cut hay (potentially harvested from their own pasture). Once spring arrives with its flush of green pasture growth, the animals are again moved to grazing pasture(s).
Barn2Door only allows the sale of meats that have been raised on pasture. If farmers also follow rotational grazing, they can highlight that via ‘best practice’ in their storefront.
Check out these Barn2Door farmers who are rotationally grazing: