Abstract for: Cultivating System Dynamics Skills via Facilitated Learning with a Generic Livestock Grazing Management Model

The field of system dynamics has a wealth of resources for teaching model-building skills to audiences with little or no prior system dynamics background, but such ready-made models are not widely available in agricultural and animal science contexts. In this paper, we present a simple starter model, a generic livestock grazing management model, that can be used for skill-building in system dynamics. The main objectives of the model and its accompanying information are to enable participants to gain hands-on experience with the iterative modeling process, to convey how model structure affects behavior, to show that predicting the future behavior of nonlinear systems is not straightforward even with small structures, and to demonstrate the use of these small models in managerial decision-making processes in an agricultural context. This paper presents a step-by-step model-building process that can be followed during a training session, model structure and behavior, a cover story that can accompany the model, skill development and discussion topics that can be elaborated during a training session, and possible scenario analysis that can be conducted with participants. This study aims to contribute to the inventory of simple system dynamics models that can be used in agricultural and animal science contexts.