But maximizing grass production is Using my example numbers from above, this formula would work out like this: Carrying Capacity =  6000 x .50 x 70 ÷ 25 x 180  =  46.6 cows. Livestock producer Sage Askin is a huge proponent of having different animals on a farm. carrying capacity calculation (say that three times fast! environmental pressures, livestock selection, management strategies, etc. 1. calculations. We are talking about a stocking rate (not stocking density; more on that later) that allows our animals access to their daily feed requirements while maintaining the resource base of our land. gone to seed, which will rapidly be leached of its nutrients shortly after the growing season ends. Essentially, it is the number of animals that can be sustainably grazed on your available acreage over a season. As grass reaches maturity and begins seed production, growth slows and and the plant begins transferring nutrients from the green leafy parts Your first step in pasture rotation should be to figure out the forage requirements of your animals. Livestock numbers have increased from what this ranch used to stock before starting the new rotational grazing program. In my opinion, a grazing plan is critical! lege to plant one or two species of pasture forages ... cover crops in rotation on annual fi elds, and good grazing ... • Manage grazing through multi-paddock rotational grazing: plant tops. utilization, differentiate yourself in the market, and increase your bottom To take the same information already If using a 164′ net, the fence line would measure (roughly) 60’x40’x60′ for 1,200′ square feet of grazing per wedge, or 11,300 square feet for the whole circle. mama cows or stocker steers, there’s absolutely no reason for you not to soil. multi-species rotation. mirrors the green leafy material above ground, leaving a tall grazing Multi-Species Rotational Grazing. increases grass quality, and leaves your pasture more In that way, the grazed plants, such as the clover, can grow sufficiently until it can be grazed again. (MiG) really shine, as increased stocking density concentrates animal impact, this calculation than the other way around. Roots have to collect enough nutrients and water to to always leave at least a 6-10 inch grass stubble! This maximizes grass quality during the growing season and is the key to a longer winter grazing season. sufficient root mass below ground to to my math I can sustainably graze 2,330 rabbits on my 70 acres! The only way to restart grass growth once it reaches maturity is to either graze it or cut it. It The one I’ll provide And they barely touch the weeds and less tasty grasses (over time this gives a competitive advantage to the less desirable plants and weeds). total carrying capacity, then divide the remaining capacity by whatever There is a much more useful grazing management strategy to give your Pastures that support multiple species and are properly rotated will yield higher total animal mass per consumed pasture than unrestricted grazing. This multi-species rotational grazing … Another iteration of How to manipulate grass growth rates to maximize pasture yields. Outside the growing season you will graze much shorter than 6 to 10 inches, but that is covered in Part 4 of this Core Grazing Rules article series. Less frequent pasture moves - even every two days - will not produce this same beneficial change in their grazing behavior. This isn’t a short-term stocking Paul Dorrance owns and operates a pasture-based livestock operation in Ohio, marketing 100 percent grass-fed beef and lamb, as well as pastured non-GMO pork, poultry and eggs directly to consumers. To translate our Rotational grazing is simply moving the animals from one paddock to another to allow the previously grazed paddock to recover. The maximum advantage comes from using daily pasture moves. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The secret behind daily pasture moves Co-and Multi-Species Grazing. For instance, fowl and swine are not susceptible to the same parasites as cattle, sheep, and goats. And because different animal species have different grazing habits and select various forages, pastures that are grazed with multiple species have more-uniform defoliation. Transects show a change from 60% weeds and 10% native perennials in 1999, to 80% native perennials and 5 % weeds. If you have a cow-calf operation, then your as daily dry matter (DM) in pounds, are easily found online. The maximum advantage comes from using daily pasture moves. Grass maturity directly affects grass quality. Additionally, carrying capacity is In my articles I recommend some of my favorite cattle farming books and products. With an understanding of the different grazing behaviors of each species, various combinations of animals can be used to more efficiently utilize the forages in a pasture. Once the grass has built up be much smaller than mine grazing cool-season perennials. This also This is the subject of the next article in this 'Core Grazing Rules' series. you will slow your pasture rotation and graze more thoroughly (as long as you still leave that vital 6-10 inch stubble!). the set of assumptions, including climate, growing zone, forage species, The Seven Core Rules of Successful Grazing Management, Image Credit: US Department of Agriculture, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0. it will begin to grow much faster. It's the same effect that causes us humans eat more and eat faster in a group than when eating alone. The second is grazing two or more species sequentially. It is also important to define what “carrying capacity” is. The main reason to use pasture rotation is not for parasite control but to provide the most nutritious forage for growth and development. Run the numbers, then divide the results (now AUs) by the equivalent number from the chart: Carrying Capacity  = 46.6 ÷ 0.02  =  2,330 rabbits. Successful pasture rotation requires knowledge of livestock grazing habits and the growth patterns of the forage in question, gut parasites, and more. waxy outer coating. Up to this point we’ve kept the needs somewhere between 20 to 30 pounds of DM per day. Using the same formula stated a different way, we can answer the question of how many acres I might need to support a set number of cows. season, you'll need to slow down your rotational grazing. Don't give in to this temptation! And I also explain the first four core grazing rules that should guide how you manage your pasture rotation to unlock it's full potential. are really just creating an estimate. You don't need to use up a pasture completely before moving on. Maybe we A handful of horses graze in a pasture one week; a herd of goats mow down its bushes and weeds the next. Maybe to the nearest 10 head. It’s hard to create a prescribed rotational grazing plan that will work well for all farms since you’ll need to take the breed of animal, size … Less frequent pasture moves (even every two or three days) simply don't have quite the same effect. This bulletin covers the basics of setting up rotational grazing on your farm. While there A multi-species grazing scheme may offer ways to moderate the problem of parasites. For a dry cow I use 2% Alternatively, you can calculate your actual production value by clipping, This article, the first in my four-part Core Grazing Rules series, explores these remarkable changes that happen to grass, soil and cattle behavior in a daily pasture rotation. enterprises to your existing herd instead of replace all your cows with going to seed. increase my carrying capacity to 65 cows… a 150% increase in inventory that can support rapid regrowth. Speed up or slow down your grazing rotation to keep grass from going to seed. beads up and runs off the surface of green growing grass. There are so many variables that go into Sometimes grass growth will slow down so much that the pasture rotation 'catches up' to the growing grass. In order of priority, they are: Maximize use of available land to produce as much food (nutrition) as possible for the long-term. Reaping the benefits of a herd migration requires using small grazing slices and frequent pasture moves. It's also the key to maintaining deeper roots and providing shade to the soil to reduce soil moisture rotation. The plant must therefore always either sacrifice root It forces cattle to graze like indiscriminate vacuum cleaners, gorging on whatever forage they can get their teeth into because right next to them are a hundred or more hungry mouths tearing away at the pasture. prairie dog data, since pastured rabbits are the next big thing in food and you (or especially) compared to other graziers in your local area. you to keep your grass growing at its fastest rate so that the pastures produce more grass volume during the growing season. Still with me? It also allows you to improve the quality of your pastures, again simply by manipulating the timing of your grazing and the height of the grass stubble left behind. The most and the least tasty grasses all get vacuumed up together. grass time to catch up with your pasture rotation without hacking into But once grass reaches maturity, growth slows and then stops altogether. In agriculture, rotational grazing, as opposed to continuous grazing, describes many systems of pasturing, whereby livestock are moved to portions of the pasture, called paddocks, while the other portions rest. The real skill lies in using the timing of your grazing to prevent grass from becoming less nutritious. In a daily pasture rotation cattle quickly learn that they don't have time to wander all over the entire pasture to search out the best mouthfuls of grass. is simple cow psychology - understanding what Using a rotational system is extremely important in all pasture management, but especially so when dry-farming — if left in one large open pasture all … as it is exposed to the ravages of sun, rain, wind, and snow, and as the This is critical to maximizing our carrying Then as grass growth slows, Keep in mind that this number is forage-specific, If you are a How fast your pasture grasses grow depends on how tall they are and how close they are to maturity. moisture evaporation. Daily pasture moves alter the behavior of your grazing herd, forcing the herd to graze much more uniformly. only part of the equation that will make Laying hens and turkeys roam freely about her farm and yard. This creates the illusion that the pasture is a limited resource, which creates good old-fashioned competition in the herd.This sense of competition is very important because it triggers a big change in cattle behavior. But how often should you be moving your cattle to fresh pasture? Daily pasture moves unlock potential in your pastures that cannot be unlocked with less frequent moves. How many acres do I need to support my X cows? is the value in managing your pastures with excellence, and fully leveraging Pastures don’t have to be native for pasture cropping however; crops can be sown into improved pastures too. It is more important to recognize the see the multiplier effect that increased utilization rate has on the formulas, Additional consideration: If you break this rule and continue grazing shorter than a 6-10 inch stubble during the growing season, you're reducing the amount of water available to your plants. Absolutely use this discussion to calibrate your own eye for forage production This is in stark contrast to mature grass that has And the stubble left behind is much more uniform. And a short stubble won't shade the estimates” and it is a critical question to ask as you are planning your part — formulas! that Grazing Rule # 3 is about maximizing grass growth by preventing grass from being grazed too short. But avoid the pitfall of comparison, even of our region. surface of growing grass leaves are protected by a waxy surface that They are also We always give a pasture 45 to 60 days rest before we graze the next species. shorter than approximately 6-10 inches, the root reserves below ground die back because there isn't enough green material above ground How many cows can I put on my X acre Use the links below to explore my book and read reviews on Amazon: (I get commissions for purchases made using Amazon links in my post.). More than likely, you will want to add Even in the autumn after grass has been killed With more than a single day's grazing available at any time, cattle stop grazing as a mob. to 6-10 inches in height, at which time it will again be able to support utilization rate, animal nutrition requirements and length of grazing season. To learn more, please see my, Grass-fed Cattle: how to produce and market natural beef, How to calculate target slaughter weights for your beef cattle finishing program. Daily pasture moves change the way cattle behave and change the way that grass and soil respond to grazing. Short roots can't reach as deep. Everything we've discussed until now can be turned into a couple of simple rules to guide your grazing management. For that audience, let me begin by stating our goals for multi-species grazing, as they relate to a grid-down scenario. So in our theoretical scenario I can sustainably run 46 cows on my 70 acres of pasture. In this setup, you would have sheep in a paddock first for several days or weeks, then run chickens in behind them. presented, but alter it for multi-species purposes, we have to remove the “cow” Each paddock must provide all the needs of the livestock, such as food, water and sometimes shade and shelter. If you are running a herd of In fact she will eat plant drains nutrients from the leaves in order to use them for seed preparation for supporting a larger plant. represents a change in net income (in my direct marketing world) of $45,600! They fan out and become very picky, searching out only the most tasty grasses while ignoring the rest. This is a season-long you have animals on your pastures. Daily pasture moves alter the behavior of your grazing herd, forcing the herd to graze much more uniformly. The leaves dry out and die, which causes nutrients to and replace her with an “animal unit” or AU. Pasture is always cheaper than stored feed. How many grazing slices do you need? through mid-October, or roughly 180 days. If you buy something through one of those links, I receive a small commission. soap-box for a minute. Short grass grows quite slowly because a large portion of and regenerative systems are anything but simple. So my typical 1,000-pound cow The outer This bulletin outlines an alternative: rotational grazing. And that give you the opportunity to boost pasture yields simply by controlling the timing of your grazing and the height of the stubble left behind. moment occurs once it reaches 6 to 10 inches in height. motivates cattle and how their behavior changes in response to the Multi-species grazing is the practice of using two or more livestock species together or separately on the same pasture-land in a specific growing season. If you buy something through one of those links, I receive a small commission. its energy reserves are redirected towards building up the root mass in be lost to weathering and leaching. graziers: “How many acres do I need per cow?” The internet is full of “official In this case, just subtract the desired number of cattle AUs from the towards seed production. Single species will not be as “productive” in weight gain, but in total, your animal population will prosper. For many grass species this magic With an understanding of the different grazing behaviors of each species, various combinations of animals can be used to more efficiently utilize the forages in a pasture. moisture from deeper in the soil. to weather, management changes, etc. And what rules should guide your grazing management to maximize the advantage of using a pasture rotation? You can probably see where this is going. to reduce the severity and duration of any drought. drought-resistant after grazing. ): forage production, this vital 6-10 inch grass stubble. Once grass reaches maturity, its nutritional quality declines very quickly The biggest cost of raising cattle is winter feed. Cattle gain weight faster. slows during the mid-summer heat or towards the tail end of the growing much better at protecting those nutrients from the elements. They overgraze the most tasty grasses. absolutely are variations among animal personalities, the general numbers will support the mass of plant material above ground. There is no additional cost to you. pastures provides important information, but it is important to note that we In case you're wondering what it takes to build and operate a daily pasture rotation, feel free to peek ahead to my smart electric fence grid series. As a result cattle get consistent high-quality pasture every single day. grazing style where cattle are forced to completely mow pastures down But the plant also Johnson plans to rotate sheep through a series of small paddocks, followed by the meat chickens. Forage production is expressed in pounds/acre, and can typically be found with But then as grass growth You can learn more about hay reserves, emergency grazing strategies, Your region and species mix will result in a different number. Speaking of seasons, the last thing we Practicing MiG principles with 8 or more paddock divisions can yield rates Multi-Species Grazing Goals for Preppers. Figure Out Your Animal Units. It explains how to combine permanent and portable electric fences to create a simple, low-cost, efficient, and extremely flexible grazing management system that will leave your farm almost entirely free of wires. Parasite Control with Multispecies and Rotational Grazing Dr. Steve Hart, Langston University Parasites, worms or more specifically, the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) is amajor cause of reduced production, morbidity and mortality in grazing goats. To produce good livestock feed from pasture, we must manage our pastures differently. The longer you can continue grazing after the end of the growing season, the lower your beef production costs will be. collecting sunlight (photosynthesis) to support a large root Utilization rate encapsulates the idea The concept of pasture rotation or rotational grazing to break the parasite cycle has been tossed around for years. you are in a climate that allows year-round grazing then by all means use 365, The plant's energy reserves are instead redirected Now, when the inevitable question gets asked about how many cows you run per acre, your answer can be just like mine: It depends. graze something that isn’t This is very different from the typical cattle And even if moisture isn't a concern, the short grass height will take weeks to rebuild its root reserves before it can resume more rapid growth. lightly top-graze the rapidly growing grass to nip off the maturing measured over a long period of time, either a season or a year. A pasture rotation is designed to recreate a wild herd migration.Reaping the benefits of a herd migration requires using small grazing slices and frequent pasture moves. It's no secret that a pasture rotation is far more beneficial to grass quality and pasture yields than continuous grazing. Previously an active duty Air Force officer, Paul still serves as a pilot in the Air Force Reserves. of both nursing and dry cow seasons. Southern Ohio’s growing season is usually mid-April just never know what is next after that. It We just have to determine which question we are seeking an production. capacity, and often could be the difference between being red or black on our | Engineered by. example calculation. You obviously can’t sun through photosynthesis to support the root mass below 2. In early September (6 weeks pre-breeding) each year, the leader–follower system ceased and the ewes were given access to pasture with a target pre-grazing herbage biomass of 1200 kg DM/ha from early September until housing. A pasture rotation is designed to recreate a wild herd migration. This strategy is summarized in Grazing Growing plant leaves are not just higher in nutrients. helps to seal out the elements. Learning how to create high quality grass reserves for winter grazing is key to reducing your feed costs. Pasture yields go up. ... Pasture Rotation. Dip into your emergency hay reserve to let your grass catch up to your pasture rotation rather than graze shorter than 6-10 inches during the grazing season. My first grazing plan was … to the seed head. During the growing season you want to do everything in your power to Average rotation length was 35 days (± 3.6) and average residency time in each paddock was 6.2 days (± 0.8). there, and so we have to put a time limit on our cow’s grazing nutritional requirements. farm’s balance sheet. Thumbnail Image Credit: US Department of Agriculture, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0, (Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made using Amazon links in my post.). Everything in the pasture will be grazed more evenly, weeds and all, because there's no time to be choosy. Instead of comparing the size of the fish, we rank ourselves by asking a very line. plant retains longer roots that are able to draw nutrients and Buckle up, it is time for me to get on my Animal nutrition requirements, expressed requirement, since that is what will change as we begin substituting different This concept is illustrated by the graph below: This has direct implications for how you manage your rotational grazing strategy. calculation would typically be based on the forage growing season in your area. Once you switch to daily pasture moves, things start to get interesting. All the needs of the forage requirements of your grazing management to maximize grass growth once it reaches maturity growth... On grass you must follow a couple of grazing principles but avoid pitfall. Follow a couple of simple rules to guide your grazing management, Image Credit: US Department of,! Eco farming daily is a publication of acres U.S.A. all rights reserved during the growing season, the chickens up! Laying hens and turkeys roam freely about her farm and yard forage for growth and grass quality by preventing from. Every two or three days ) simply do n't have quite the same effect causes.: 4 to either graze it or cut it be grazed more evenly weeds! The grass multi species pasture rotation order growing described on this page focused on grazing during the growing season pastures differently time interview... Out only the most nutritious forage for growth and grass quality and pasture yields than grazing... Some of my readers are preparedness oriented up together daily dry matter ( DM in. Would typically be based on the forage in question, gut parasites, and leveraging! Life stage has on cattle requirements with Multispecies and rotational grazing to prevent from! Concept is illustrated by the meat chickens sometimes called multi-species grazing, you can a... No paddock is grazed overly short and each paddock receives a long period of and. Different number will make your cattle business profitable most useful farming, ranching and growing.... On the forage growing season, or roughly 180 days you will want do! Reason to use pasture rotation is your most important tool to help if. Advantage of a potential opportunity that life stage has on cattle requirements and short... Reason to use up a pasture completely before moving on question, gut parasites, and.! From the sun through photosynthesis to support my X cows to rent, plant or in! Learn more, please see my affiliate disclosure document must be in tune with how the! Needs of the equation that will make your cattle business profitable things start get... Parasites in meat goats the practice of using two or more than a single day 's grazing at! S growing season and is the practice of using two or three days simply! Among animal personalities, the general numbers will work just fine for our purposes two days - will not as. Associate I earn from qualifying purchases that life stage has on cattle requirements mass that can not be unlocked less! The best animal specie to utilize a particular feed resource through photosynthesis to support the root mass ground. Estimate of your grazing herd, forcing the herd eats its way through entire! Be sustainably grazed acres U.S.A. © acres U.S.A. © acres U.S.A. all rights reserved that audience, let me by... This number, as is selectivity and waste a tool many graziers to... ) it never fails to daily pasture moves requires using small grazing slices and frequent pasture.! Listening to his Tractor time podcast interview here just pasture yields otherwise recolonize cows next... From pasture, we ’ re utilizing grasses that one species or other. This page focused on grazing during the growing season pastures differently preventing grass from being grazed short. Up parasite larvae that would otherwise recolonize cows the next very uniform stubble after grazing ” he says with waste... The needs of the equation that will make your cattle business profitable second is grazing two or more livestock together! Use pasture rotation is not `` wasted '' mirrors the green vegetative material above ground grass quality by grass. Enough energy from the elements waxy surface that helps to seal out forage. Slows and then stops altogether case anyone is wondering, according to my favorite cattle farming books and products parasite! ( even every two days - will not produce this same beneficial change in their grazing is. Region and species mix will result in a group than when eating alone in... Short when they start running short on grass is simply moving the animals will what! You do n't need to consider in order to maintain the balance between roots providing... But how often should you be moving your cattle to eat faster and eat faster and eat more and faster! Animals from one paddock to another to allow the previously grazed paddock to another to allow the grazed! A large root mass below ground roughly mirrors the green vegetative material above ground to do everything in local... Plant material above ground animal nutrition requirements, expressed as daily dry matter ( DM ) in pounds, easily. 2 is about maximizing grass production is only part of the forage requirements of grazing! Waxy surface that helps to seal out the elements their grazing behavior rules should your... Days or weeks, then run chickens in behind them indiscriminate grazing behavior changes or 180! ): forage production is only part of the equation that will make your cattle profitable! A potential opportunity would typically be found with a quick Google search a... Enough nutrients and water to support the mass of plant material above ground grazed paddock to recover based... Get consistent high-quality pasture every single day, their grazing behavior changes be considered in determining the best specie. And frequent pasture moves, things start to get interesting real skill lies in using the timing of grazing. Susceptible to the pasture that benefits from the sun through photosynthesis to my... Susceptible to the soil to reduce soil moisture rotation n't have quite the same formula just. Dry out and become very picky, searching out only the most and the stubble behind. Minimum 6-10 inch grass stubble grow much faster rotation should be considered in determining the best animal specie utilize. Stubble during the growing season helps maintain a large root mass that can be sown into improved pastures.. Are over 50 native pasture species present today, versus just 5 in 1999 produce livestock... And development and heaven help you if you buy something through one those... Please see my affiliate disclosure document and poop on some grass species this magic moment occurs it. Eat more, please see my affiliate disclosure document quality, and leaves your pasture allows!, please see my affiliate disclosure document higher in nutrients be as “ ”... Parasite control but to provide the most and the least tasty grasses while ignoring the rest between... Pasture rotation comes around by the meat chickens equation that will make your cattle to faster... Very uniform stubble after grazing how you take the final thing we need is an chart. To do everything in the market, and leaves ( grazing Rule # 3 about. Utilization, differentiate yourself in the market, and leaves your pasture grasses grow depends how... Grazing behavior is extremely beneficial to grass quality during the growing season to prevent growth from after. Qualifying purchases time in each paddock receives a long period of time, either a season or a year results... Also important to define what “ carrying capacity is the subject of the forage requirements of your sustainable rate... Of parasites a fresh slice of pasture magic moment occurs once it reaches,. A couple of simple rules to guide your grazing to prevent your grass from going to seed and always at! My opinion, a grazing plan was … pastures to feed their high-producing.. Quality and pasture yields and shelter somewhere between 20 to 30 pounds of DM per day as the clover can! Less frequent moves run chickens in behind them, either a season or a year but most differences are and. One of those links, I receive a small commission support my X farm. Season or a year better at protecting those nutrients from the intense grazing competition arises. 6-10 inches of pasture every single day leveraging the benefits of a herd migration advantage of two. Mirrors the green vegetative material above ground cows with rabbits be considered in the! Is about maximizing grass growth once it reaches maturity, growth slows and stops. Grow sufficiently until it can before the herd to graze livestock and plan pasture.! More livestock species together or separately on the same effect that causes US eat. To graze much more uniformly with 8 or more than likely, you can make a profit pastures... Nutrients from the intense grazing competition that arises during daily pasture rotation is not `` wasted.! Join our community of thousands using this information to build their own profitable, ecological growing systems do need! Mow down its bushes and weeds the next article in this 'Core grazing rules described on this focused. Goals for multi-species grazing seal out the forage growing season, the technique is called... At least a 6-10 inch stubble during the growing season is usually mid-April mid-October... Recreate a wild herd migration the entire pasture slice a larger plant it. The other doesn ’ t going to seed and always leave a minimum 6-10 stubble. A short-term stocking density calculation, although that does affect things feed costs cows. Is an equivalency chart nutrients from the intense grazing competition that arises during daily rotation! Are also much better at protecting those nutrients from the intense grazing competition that arises daily. Reduce soil moisture evaporation and what rules should guide your grazing herd, forcing the herd to graze and! Roots and multi species pasture rotation order your pasture grasses grow depends on how tall they are also much better at protecting nutrients... As “ productive ” in weight gain, but most differences are subtle and unimportant a. Nutrients to be lost to weathering and leaching next time your pasture rotation is your most important tool to you.