Thus, it is crucial that operations properly balance forage supply with forage demand needed by their cow herd. The USDA’s NRCS Web Soil Survey provides a reliable estimate of forage productivity for land all across the U.S., see (Table 1). A quicker (but much more crude) method of predicting forage yield is by using estimates available through the USDA based on soil survey data. This base is the animal unit (AU) system in which feed intake is defined on the basis of a standard animal: a 1,000-pound cow. To calculate paddock size, multiply the suggested acres per AU by the AU in the herd. The immediate conclusion of this calculation indicates that this ranch is slightly understocked; there is more feed available for grazing than there are cattle to consume it. Example: The herd will graze each paddock for 3 days when 1000 pounds of pasture are available. Also, the tank should hold a minimum of 25% of the herd’s daily water intake or 500 gallons (100 cows X 20 gal per head per day ) which would require 10 foot diameter tank that is 2.5 feet deep. Each issue of Progressive Forage contains articles which focus on a particular topic area within the forage industry. A key aspect that can be easily overlooked is the optimal recovery period following HSD grazing. Much is learned by trial and error. How Many Cows Per Acre Calculation. ... Stock densities of 3 to 5 cows (or their equivalent) per acre … Most livestock have the potential to receive a substantial amount of their feed from pasture. In a sense, it provides the “guard rails” for deciding on how many cows to run, impact of increasing harvest efficiency, the number of cows to increase or decrease due to high or low precipitation, etc. ... Kelsie is from southwest Missouri … Variables such as season of application, management issue being addressed, long-term objective, type of soils and forages, terrain, herd size and weight, etc., also impact the application of stock density. This equals 750,000 pounds of forage that is available per year on the operation. If the 500-acre property is divided into 10 pastures of equal size (50 acres each) the stock density of cattle in each pasture is one cow per one acre (or 1,200 pounds per acre, assuming average cow weight is 1,200 pounds). How many cows per acre will fit on my land? emailProtector.addCloakedMailto("ep_9a036c8e", 1); Jason K. AholaemailProtector.addCloakedMailto("ep_fc6c56fe", 1); Associate Professor Beef Management Systems Colorado State University. There are many different grazing methods used to improve productivity, maintain desirable pasture species and reduce land degradation. What is Intensive Grazing? General guidelines as to the expected observed results of the properly managed application of HSD grazing at increasing stock densities as it relates to the variables of selective grazing, grazing distribution and animal impact. Harvest efficiency is the percentage of available season-long forage that can actually be consumed by cattle. DM/head/day (0.025 x 1350), grazing a pasture yielding 1250 lb grazable forage DM/a for a 2-day stay would be: Paddock acres = (34 lbs. If you have 500 acres and 50 cows, the stocking rate is 50 cows, or one cow per 10 acres. If you have 500 acres and 50 cows, the stocking rate is 50 cows, or one cow per 10 acres. High stock density grazing begins when cattle are combined into a single herd and moved through multiple pastures within a management area whereby pastures are grazed and rested (allowed to recover) in a managed approach. These timely themes deliver information relevant to forage producers and other forage professionals to help them be more successful and profitable in their areas of operation. “Even though I no longer own the cattle, I think rotational grazing under irrigation is still more profitable than corn right now, considering cattle prices,” he says. Another consideration is that while production per cow is less, the number of cows per acre on the pasture can increase. Mob grazing is actually a tool … Before increasing stock density above what is achieved from implementing a well-managed grazing program, ask yourself what you wish to achieve. And the average in their county is 80 cow days per acre, which means you can run one cow on one acre for 80 days, or you can run 80 cows on 1 acre for 1 day.” “At Joel’s farm he puts the equivalent of 400 cows on 1 … Provide content to help all segments of the cattle industry produce successful and healthy livestock. Therefore, 1.16 animal units per cow x 2 acres per animal unit = 2.3 acres per 1,150-pound cow. However, it is crucial to realize several things, including the fact that all calculations are based on estimates including forage yield (which is based on soil survey data, precipitation, etc. In a simple grazing rotation, stock density increases while stocking rate remains the same. Rather than fencing in several acres for the goats and letting them spend the whole grazing season on that space, subdivide the pasture … Since forage demand is typically affected by an animal’s bodyweight, a common “base” must be used to determine animal demand for forage. 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Multiply that times 300 head of cattle, and it … It should be noted that some additional aspects of this operation were not accounted for in these calculations. Let’s assume we have a 1,000-acre operation that has an average annual yield of 2,500 pounds of forage per acre based on NRCS data. If done well, it can be very positive. Typically, harvest efficiency on most operations will be 25 to 30 percent if continuous season-long or simple rotation grazing management is used (Table 2). In drier areas you may need up to 100 paddocks. To determine the number of animal units you can graze on a piece of land us via this formula: Total Animal Units = (Pasture size [acres] x Stocking rate [AUM/acre]) / Length of grazing period (months) Therefore, as per our example, Total Animal Units = (100 acres x 1.0 AUM/acre) / 4 months = 25 Animal Units. He can run more cows on fewer acres with rotational grazing. However, HSD grazing doesn’t have to be applied at the extremely high intensities often considered to be “mob” grazing whereby multiple moves per day are required. Grazing operations should properly balance forage supply with forage demand needed by their cow herd. When utilized properly, rotational grazing can help farmers increase forage productivity. Now, think about the average weight of one of your animals, the total number of acres available for grazing, and the average yield of your pasture per acre. Everything depends on your environment, but the concepts remain the same. All Rights Reserved. HSD has intentional impacts on the soils, forages and ultimately livestock production. Forage cost for cow-calf producers has increased dramatically in recent years, in part due to fewer acres of forage produced (due to competition from feed grains) and considerable drought throughout the U.S. To achieve profitability, producers must closely evaluate how efficiently forages are used by their cows, including during the grazing season. Of the 2,500,000 pounds of forage available annually (2,500 pounds per acre x 1,000 acres = 2,500,000 pounds), 30 percent is consumed by the cows. Rotational grazing systems are generally the most efficient way to get the best use of pastures and maximum beef production per acre, as well as being healthier for the land and plants. 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