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Forage and Grazing Opportunities. Craig Saxe UW – Extension, Juneau Co. What Grazing Management and Golf have in common. It’s something you do outdoors Doing it well is more difficult then it looks Many people “talk” a much better game than they play

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Forage and Grazing Opportunities

Craig Saxe

UW – Extension, Juneau Co.

what grazing management and golf have in common
What Grazing Management and Golf have in common
  • It’s something you do outdoors
  • Doing it well is more difficult then it looks
  • Many people “talk” a much better game than they play
  • Studying about how to do it can be helpful, but real success requires practice and experience
what grazing management and golf have in common3
What Grazing Management and Golf have in common
  • Weather can have a huge influence on the results obtained
  • There are many products you can buy to better your game, but a real expert only needs a few basics
  • No matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement
grazing formula
Grazing Formula

Sunlight + Rain + Green Plants = Plant Growth

Plant Growth + Grazing Animals = $$$

  • The Grazing formula involves:
  • What’s best for the grass
  • What’s best for the livestock
  • What moves you toward your goals!!!
traditional pastures are often continuously grazed
Traditional Pastures are often “Continuously Grazed”

This usually means:

  • Lower yields
  • Serious weed pressure
  • Erosion problems
  • General “poor” management
in rotational grazing
In Rotational Grazing...
  • Pastures are subdivided into smaller areas (or paddocks)
  • A portion of the pasture is grazed while the remainder “Rests”
  • Paddocks are allowed to:
    • Renew energy reserves
    • Rebuild plant vigor
    • Improve long-term production
intensive rotational grazing
Intensive Rotational Grazing...

Involves a higher level of management

  • Greater paddock numbers
  • Shorter grazing periods
  • Longer rest periods
monthly forage production in 2 acre grass and grass legume pastures
Monthly forage productionin 2-acre grass and grass-legume pastures

animal need

Grass Pasture

Grass-Legume Pasture

forage growth curve



ForageGrowth Curve

Best time to graze

the rest period
The Rest Period
  • Should vary according to plant growth
  • In general, must increase as growth rate slows
  • Relates closely to seasonal forage growth
  • Need to rotate between paddocks every 3-6 days
relationship of rest period to pasture mass during periods of rapid vs slow growth
Relationship of rest period to pasture mass during periods of rapid vs. slow growth


DM / acre




0 5 10 15 20 25

Period of fast plant growth (days)

0 10 20 30 40 50

Period of slow plant growth (days)

stocking rate animals acre
Stocking Rate (animals/acre)
  • Can use formulas for actual numbers
  • Thumb rule; 1000 pounds of animal per 2-4 acres
  • Intensive Rotational Grazing = 1000 pounds of animal to 1-1.5 acres
  • Traditional “Under-managed” pastures = 1000 pounds of animal to 5-10 acres
sheep pasture
Sheep & Pasture
  • Weaned lambs should get the best pasture
  • Weaned ewes can tolerate lower quality forage
  • In drought or overstocking conditions wean lambs early and put them on drylot
  • Utilize stockpiled forage
sheep pasture23
Sheep & Pasture
  • Manage parasites
  • Manage predators
  • Desired lamb weights in the US are difficult to obtain by pasture alone
  • Wean early
consider grazing other livestock with sheep
Consider Grazing Other Livestock with Sheep


  • It reduces parasitic infestation
  • Each will eat around the others’ droppings
  • It assures more uniform use of the pasture
diet selection of livestock
Diet Selection of Livestock

a A mixture of grass and legumes

b Woody material

grazing management tips
Grazing Management Tips
  • Learn To Manage Your Pastures
  • Avoid over or under grazing
  • Apply fertilizer as needed (take a soil test)
  • Re-seed pastures if necessary
grazing management tips28
Grazing Management Tips
  • Commit Yourself Totally To Making It Work
  • Make The Transition Gradually
  • Solicit A Lot Of Advice, But Make Your Own Decisions
  • Stay Flexible And Keep Investments Low
  • Plan, Plan, & Re-plan