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Rotational Grazing. Georgia Department of Education May 2007. Rotational vs. Continuous. Rotational-The use of several different pastures with one being grazed while the others are rested. Continuous- use of one pasture full-time without rest. Benefits of Rotational Grazing.

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rotational grazing

Rotational Grazing

Georgia Department of Education

May 2007

rotational vs continuous
Rotational vs. Continuous
  • Rotational-The use of several different pastures with one being grazed while the others are rested.
  • Continuous- use of one pasture full-time without rest
benefits of rotational grazing
Benefits of Rotational Grazing
  • Reduce cost of machinery, fuel and facilities
  • Reduce supplemental feeding and pasture waste
  • Improve monthly distribution and pasture yield
  • Improve animal waste distribution and use
  • Improve pasture composition
  • Minimize daily fluctuations in intake and quality feed
  • Allocate pasture to animals more efficiently, based on nutritional needs
principles of rotational grazing
Principles of Rotational Grazing
  • Nutritional needs of livestock can be met efficiently
  • Forage yield, quality and pasture persistence can be optimized
  • Economic profit can be realized though efficiency and productivity
nutritional needs of livestock can be met efficiently
Nutritional needs of livestock can be met efficiently
  • The forage manager will allow only the top 50% of the available forage to be harvested by the animal.
  • Young, tender top growth has a higher nutritional value than the bottom half of the plant.
  • The forage manager can provide suitable forages and manage undesirable plants better.
forage yield quality and pasture persistence can be optimized
Forage yield, quality and pasture persistence can be optimized
  • Yield will be increased as the forage manager will remove animals when half of the plant has been removed. The rest time allows the plant to double production vs. continuous grazing.
  • Quality is increased by only utilizing the top half of the plant. The crude protein of legumes is twice as high in the top 6” than the bottom 6”.
  • Persistence of plants will increase due to rest times and height requirements
economic profit can be realized though efficiency and productivity
Economic profit can be realized though efficiency and productivity
  • In Georgia, cattle have shown a 44% gain per acre on a rotational grazing system vs. a conventional continuous grazing system.
  • UGA test show a 29% reduction in the amount of hay needed.
rotational grazing concerns
Rotational Grazing Concerns
  • Stocking Rate
  • Cell/Paddock Design
  • Water
stocking rate
Stocking Rate
  • How much forage will your animals consume?
  • How much forage do you have available?
animal unit month
Animal Unit Month
  • The approximate amount of forage a 1000 pound cow with a calf will eat in a month.
  • Most commonly used way to determine the carrying capacity of pasture.
  • Example: 1000 lbs x .02667 = 26.67 lbs of forage per day.
  • 26.67 x 30 days= 800 lbs per month
animal unit equivalent
Animal Unit Equivalent
  • Used to determine the metabolic rate for the animals in the pasture.
  • If a producer had 1 year old heifers, the number of animals per acre would be increased because of the lower metabolic rate.
  • Conversely, if a producer had 1400 pound herd average, the number of animals per acre would be decreased.
slide12

Commonly used Animal Unit Equivalents

USDA NRCS National Range and Pasture Handbook

slide13

Adjusted Animal Unit Equivalents for Heavier Cattle

USDA NRCS National Range and Pasture Handbook

average animal weight
Average Animal Weight
  • Average Animal Weight (AAW)
  • Uses daily metabolic requirement of 2.67% of body weight per day.
  • 1000 pound herd average weight x 2.67% feed consumed = 26.67 lbs feed needed per day.
available forage
Available Forage
  • Using a 1’ x 1’ square, clip the available forage from a random sample area. Dry forage using a microwave. Weigh the dry forage and use the Conversion Factor: Grams collected X 100 = pounds forage per acre.
  • Example: 120 grams x 100 = 1200 pounds/acre
  • Using the take half – leave half rule, the pounds would be decreased to 600 pounds per acre available
monthly forage requirement
Monthly Forage Requirement

Monthly Forage Requirement= Average animal Size x 0.02667 x 30 days per month

-Example:

1200 lbs x.5 x 50 acres= 30,000 lbs available forage

Average animal- 1000 lbs x .0267=26.67 lbs

26.67 x 30 days = 800 lbs/monthly forage requirement per animal

stocking rate1
Stocking Rate

Stocking Rate = Available Forage

Monthly Forage Requirement

Example: 1200 lbs forage per acre x .5 x 50 acres= 30,000 lbs Available Forage

800 lbs Monthly Forage Requirement

Stocking Rate = 30,000

800

Stocking Rate= 37.5 animals per month

Or

.75 animal units per acre

cell paddock design
Cell/Paddock Design
  • A whole farm plan should be designed first to insure efficient use of materials
  • Mix of cool and warm season grasses
  • Use both permanent and temporary fencing
  • Design watering and feeding areas around the center of the padocks
  • Use available forages first, then try new varieties
  • Make sure you have shaded areas in each paddock
pasture number and size
Pasture Number and Size
  • Start with 5 to 10 paddocks. This will allow a paddock to be grazed in 3 to 7 days and rested for 25-30 days.
  • Paddock number can be determined by the amount of available forage, days rest, labor available for moving animals and design of system
  • A new system should be designed so that additional fences can be included if needed.
water requirements
Water Requirements
  • Needs to be adequate in quantity and quality
  • Water needs increase with temperature, relative humidity, animal size and % moisture in diet.
  • Location can determine grazing patterns- overgrazing and undergrazing
sources of water
Sources of Water
  • Ponds,Springs,Streams- need to use heavy use area type entrance
  • Wells- private or city water
  • Pumps-ram, sling or pasture pump
  • Hauling Water
water location
Water Location
  • Keep watering areas within 600-800 feet of all grazing area.
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Rotational grazing can be designed for any farm, any size
  • Cattle producers who place forage production first, will be more profitable
  • Forage managers will require fewer inputs of purchased feed, hay and other supplements.
  • Higher animal units can be carried on smaller acreages.
bibliography
Bibliography
  • Rotational Grazing- http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id143/id143.htm
  • Determining Your Stocking Rate- http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/NR_RM_04.pdf
  • Getting Started Grazing- http://ohioline.osu.edu/gsg/gsg_6.html