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A Book Review of “The Art and Science of Grazing”

by Rich Taber
“How Grass Farmers Can Create Sustainable Systems for Healthy Animals and Farm Ecosystems”, by Sarah Flack
unspecifiedI love to read, and will state that at the outset.  I moreover love to read about one of my undying passions, which is sustainable agriculture in general, and grazing in particular.  Sarah Flack’s recently published book, The Art and Science of Grazing is an absolute “must read” for anyone interested in grazing and animal agriculture.  This book is a comprehensive tome covering all facets of ruminant grazing and pasture management for farmers who have beef cattle, sheep, goats, and dairy cattle. It is published by Vermont’s Chelsea Green Publishing, which has a history of producing excellent quality books on a variety of sustainable topics.
If one was in need of an excellent book to teach a course on grazing, then look no further than this book to instill new techniques and knowledge in your audiences.  I heartily recommend this edition and rate it with five stars. Why do I rate it so high?  Quite succinctly, Sarah Flack has provided a treasure trove of information and techniques based on sound ecological practices, which can support economically viable farming with animal agriculture.
This is a four part book with fifteen chapters and several appendices.  Part One “Laying the Groundwork” has two chapters;   Benefits of Good Pasture Management, and Types of Grazing Systems.  Part Two “Grazing from the Plant’s Perspective” has four chapters; Grazing Adapted Plants, Pasture Soil Health, Managing Pasture Plants, and Common Pasture Plants.  Part Three “Grazing from the Animal’s Perspective” has six chapters; The Unique Digestive Ability of Ruminants, Ruminant Nutrition from Pasture, Meeting Livestock Nutritional Needs, Grazing Behavior, 100 Percent Grassfed, and Health Concerns.  Part Four “Designing and Managing a Grazing System” has three chapters; Pasture Math, Calculating Acreage, Grazing System Design and Infrastructure, and the final chapter, Putting it All Together.  These chapters are followed by several excellent appendices dealing with pasture problems, pasture planning worksheets, pasture monitoring, certification programs, and a list of further resources.
The book is printed on very high quality paper, and is loaded throughout with high quality color photos.  Each chapter is filled with the latest knowledge available to support this wonderful and growing endeavor of grazing management.  I also found it to be written with flawless grammar, spelling, and editing throughout which is always a pleasure to see.
As our agricultural world slowly changes to include more humane livestock husbandry methods, and ecologically benign methods to support those concepts, this book provides knowledge and information for graziers to not only “talk the talk” but to” walk the walk”.
The book is available from Chelsea Green Publishing at, http://www.chelseagreen.com/ 
Rich Taber is Grazing, Forestry, and Ag Economic Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County, New York. He is also an active grazier and co-owner and operator of Great Northern Farm in Madison County New York, with his wife Wendy. They raise beef cattle, sheep, laying hens, meat chickens, heritage turkeys, and dogs on their 165 acre farm. He can be reached at 607-334-5841, ext. 21, or email: rbt44@cornell.edu.


Claire Cekander

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