We are a 100% grass-fed dairy herd managing pasture is a huge part of what we do. As a dairy farmer hoping to make delicious milk my biggest priority is getting the cows access to the best quality food whatever the time of year. From late April- November that means grasses and legumes that I manage as pasture.
My basic grazing plan is that my herd (33 cows- 10@1000lbs and 20@1400-1600lbs) move to a fresh 6/10-acre paddock every 12 hrs. This is the very formulaic version of what I do every day but I am not so rigid in reality and when the grass looks good they may get that 6/10ths but when I am wishing that it were taller or more dense or the weather is wet they will get a bigger slice. I have many pasture spaces and each of them has a permanent perimeter (in some cases that is a polywire perimeter, others my fathers old barbed wire, and in one case, a five strand high tensile that a previous lessee of the farm must have spent big money on) the interior of each pasture is divided up into sections with single strand polywire and pigtail posts.
I am in my fifth season now and I have come to be a practitioner to Holistic Management. The guidelines are set out in a book by Allan Savory and Judy Butterfield- its a good book for anyone but especially farmers. If a thick tome is too much but your are curious you could watch Allan Savory's TED Talk here. The basic principles are that through careful management of the ways that cows graze you can improve the grass species, the soil bacteria and the mineral and water cycles. We've seen it to be true of our farm, though we still have a lot of work to do. Another great resource for learning more is from the amazing Sarah Flack! She wrote a book this year that makes the advantages of a closely managed pasture system plain.
We got a grant this year called EQIP and it is going to help us get pipe that will carry well water to each pasture so that its easy to implement my picky grazing system and make sure the cows have plenty of water everywhere they roam. Thank you USDA!