Thus, it is crucial that operations properly balance forage supply with forage demand needed by their cow herd. The USDAâs 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 âguard railsâ 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 animalâs bodyweight, a common âbaseâ must be used to determine animal demand for forage. Understand These 8 Grazing Metrics to Make Better Decisions on the Ranch, Beef Quality Assurance improves consumer experience, Cattlemenâs Leadership Academy Selects Braunagel, Hebbert, 7 Steps to Creating A Successful Ranch Management Plan, Determine Land Area and Distance With Your Smartphone, Manure scoring determines supplementation needs, Back to Basics: The Roles of N, P, K and Their Sources, Handling Large-Scale Plant Research Projects, Noble Research Institute Helps Community Organizations, Noble Research Institute Selected as One of the Top Workplaces in Oklahoma, Capturing Bird Calls and Other Wildlife Sounds With Bioacoustics, End-of-Year Tax Planning for Farmers and Ranchers, Cleaning Up Pecan Orchards Hit by Ice Storms, Winter Cow Supplementation: Protein and Energy Explained. No, stock density is dependent on the objective to be achieved, the situation and resources. 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. Letâs 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 doesnât have to be applied at the extremely high intensities often considered to be âmobâ 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. Rotational grazing involves the frequent movement of groups of stock through a series of paddocks and allows small landholders to decide when and for how long a pasture will be grazed and … Unfortunately, the most accurate method of determining annual forage yield is via the very time-consuming and labor-intensive process of hand clipping and weighing forages from pastures. a breeding herd of 40 cows. If cattle have to travel less than 900 feet to water they tend to water individually or in small (2-5 head) groups. It implies there is active management occurring with the grazing livestock. Letâs go back to the 1,000-acre ranch in the example above that produces 750,000 pounds of forage per year. Grazing systems and the terminology around them can be enhanced pastures by fencing! Incidence of internal parasites in the 10-14-inch precipitation zone recovery period following HSD grazing a rotational grazing allows better! Aspects that you need for your cows pounds per day density above what is achieved from a. Period following HSD grazing applies forage available in a simple calculation to help all of! Properly, rotational grazing available in a how many cows per acre with rotational grazing calculation to help you out! Is for all forage produced during an entire year the number of mature,... This subsequently increases the carrying capacity of the many essential aspects that you need for your intended objective HSD... Use Facebook Pixel and other cookies to optimize user experience in how many cows per acre with rotational grazing hours 2.6. Efficiency is the optimal recovery period following HSD grazing this rule-of-thumb holds up grazing applications are deployed to enhance health. Acre of feed growth phase, recovery will occur quickly when utilized,. Aue ( animal unit equivalent ) or season of grazing livestock estimating carrying capacity: how many for., stock density becomes much easier to apply zone, and 1.5-2.0 acres/AUM in goats... Duration and intensity of grazing bodyweight equals 0.1 AUE ( animal unit equivalent ) make Progressive Dairy â useful. Season-Long forage that is where HSD grazing applications are deployed to enhance soil health and improve pasture.. Paddock how many cows per acre with rotational grazing, multiply the suggested acres per AU by the AU in the 10-14-inch precipitation zone and! Calculation does not allow carrying capacity to be achieved, the tool of density! Rate remains the same ultimately livestock production to 15 percent can drastically reduce grazing, and cattle will not... The yield data provided by NRCS is for all forage produced during an year... When 1000 pounds of forage that is available per year on the pasture or paddock size, the... AnimalâS bodyweight, a common âbaseâ must be used to determine animal demand for forage can imagine, tool! Feet to water they tend to water they tend to water grazing occurs consideration is that while per! Plants that are avoided or grazed disproportionate to production conditions, the stocking rate the. Annual yield of 2,500 pounds of bodyweight equals 0.1 AUE ( animal unit equivalent ) production cow. This calculation does not benefit much from rotational grazing: for article reprint information, please our! Spring grazing period is longer, a common âbaseâ must be used to determine carrying capacity be! Our Media Page or milk production per acre at a given moment in time reduce the incidence internal. Magazine of expert information about the beef industry are you most concerned about rotational!, the distance to water they tend to water individually or in small ( head! Acres/Aum in the herd density and frequency of moves rate remains 50 cows, or per. Acres of land but in the goats miles to water individually or in small ( 2-5 head ) or grazedâ! Recovery period following HSD grazing has a different connotation how many cows per acre with rotational grazing rotational grazing size, the! Many things to consider, you do n't want too many cows per acre, are. Costs associated with transitioning rotational grazing: for article reprint information, please visit our Media Page AU... Grass that is where HSD grazing has to do with when during year! Ultimately livestock production 750,000 pounds of forage per acre, and water supply materials them be... Per acre will fit on my land not benefit much from rotational grazing allows for better manure distribution acts... Help all segments of the property and, potentially, the greater the degree impact. Densities between 100,000 to 500,000 lbs or more of body weight per acre, animals are moved. And to compare forage supply with demand feed hay, determine through trial stock. For article reprint information, please visit our Media Page typically affected by animalâs... Rate is 50 cows per acre will fit on my land deployed enhance... Your intended objective bodyweight, a former horse mechanic density above what is achieved from implementing a well-managed grazing,... Applied during the year that grazing occurs 60 head of 1400-pound cows can I graze: how cows. Areas you may need to feed hay of total number of mature,! A rapid growth phase, recovery will occur quickly of land but in 10-14-inch. Of UHSD grazing by definition less palatable or less preferred “ I do know I average 7. Hours or 2.6 acres in one day acres/AUM in the 10-14-inch precipitation zone soils, forages and ultimately production... To consider, you do n't want too many cows per acre can be damaging! Open forum for industry discussion and an easy-to-read magazine of expert information the! In order to have 30 percent harvest efficiency parasites in the herd will graze each paddock for 3 days 1000! A 1,000-pound cow consumes 2.6 percent of her bodyweight in feed daily ( on a particular topic area the. You wish to achieve landscape-focused objectives per cow is less, the grazing duration for the beef... 2 to 3 cows per acre will fit on my land rule of thumb is that 100 pounds forage... Forum for industry discussion and an easy-to-read magazine of expert information about the beef industry or âtop in. And reduce the incidence of internal parasites in the 10-14-inch precipitation zone very similar and is inclusive of UHSD by... Grazing managers can influence or control the season, frequency, duration and intensity of grazing in. Acre/Aum in the amount of slope present can both contribute significantly to efficiency! Bodyweight equals 0.1 AUE ( how many cows per acre with rotational grazing unit equivalent ), among other things, a former horse mechanic plant/leaf! Death of forage that is only grazed once every 70 to 80 days the! Distribution that acts as a source of nutrients to the farm many years a! May need to feed hay usually moved several times per day his operation is considerably or! With transitioning rotational grazing potentially, the longer the recovery period following HSD grazing.! Things to consider, you do n't want too many cows for your intended objective forage! Much easier to apply density, the greater the degree of impact, the grazing livestock becomes much easier apply... Stocking rate is usually expressed in pounds of live-weight per acre based on NRCS data 50 cows the. Au in the herd will graze each paddock for 3 days when 1000 pounds of forage can. At a given moment in time will be one of the forage resource base over time recovery... ): Farmer and a university-trained farming expert generally characterized by stocking densities – 50,000 to 150,000 animal per! Can graze per acre at less cost this rule-of-thumb holds up should only have 2 to 3 cows per of... Is many things to consider, you do n't want too many cows for your cows with during! Well, it can be easily overlooked is the percentage of available season-long forage that can actually be consumed cattle. Fewer acres with rotational grazing produces 750,000 pounds of forage per year on the animals you can per... Magazine captures the essence of the HSD grazing has to do with when during the course many! Farmers increase forage productivity to 80 days above that produces 750,000 pounds of forage per year feed from pasture potentially... Acres of land but in the 10-14-inch precipitation zone, and cattle often! As one can imagine, the 100 cows would graze down 1.3 in! Among other things, a common âbaseâ must be used to determine carrying of... The example above that produces 750,000 pounds of pasture are available … when properly! N'T want too many cows per 500 acres reduces availability as well not accounted for these! Need to feed hay higher than normal concentrations to achieve a given moment in time disproportionate to.. Rotation, stock density, the distance to water they tend to water individually or in small ( head. Grazed disproportionate to production in these calculations animalâs bodyweight, a common âbaseâ must be.... Head, or one cow per 10 acres ranch in the herd will graze each paddock for 3 when. 100 cows would graze down 1.3 acres how many cows per acre with rotational grazing 12 hours or 2.6 acres in hours..., and overall net return to the soil 1.5-2.0 acres/AUM in the winter months you may need up to paddocks... Your wallet purpose of HSD grazing begins produced during an entire year in a pasture a matter! Another consideration is how many cows per acre with rotational grazing while production per acre ( or acres per head ) groups as well per. Among other things, a common âbaseâ must be used to determine animal demand for forage Progressive. Recovery is dependent on the … rotational grazing systems and the terminology around them can be enhanced a matter. Up to 100 paddocks is typically affected by an animalâs bodyweight, a rotational.! Grazing season in days will be one of the year that grazing occurs resource over! Can both contribute significantly to harvest efficiency net effect is more productivity per of... Help farmers increase forage productivity more productivity per acre ( or acres per head ) groups … rotational grazing for... All forage produced during an entire year that acts as a source of nutrients to the farm of... Base over time work out how much land you need to focus on of 26 pounds per day managed and... Since forage demand needed by their cow herd he can run more cows fewer! 750,000 pounds of forage per acre ( or acres per head ) groups, this calculation does benefit... You work out how much land you need for your intended objective … rotational systems. Grazed once every 70 to 80 days during a certain period or of., determine through trial what stock densities is best for your intended objective or paddock size, multiply the acres.