|Department of Agronomy > Agronomy Extension|
Grazing Management Information
Pasture utilization is one of the key elements in a rotational stocking set up. The picture above shows an underutilized pasture. With proper management the above pasture can be transformed into a better pasture, like the examples below.
In the ideal situation, animals should be moved to a pasture when the forages are approximately eight inches tall. Then the animals need to be removed once the pasture is grazed to three or four inches. This keeps the growing parts of the plants from being injured by overgrazing. It should be noted that pastures with birdsfoot trefoil (BFT) should only be grazed to four to six inches in height. If this is not done, BFT will die off due to the lack of leaf area needed for regrowth.
The above two pictures show properly grazed paddocks. If livestock are not rotated frequently enough, hay can be made from the excess forages or pastures can be clipped once seed heads form. By clipping the pastures, new growth is stimulated and the risk of eye and face injury is reduced. If the forages are allowed to become over mature, they decrease in feed value. For top production it is very important to manage forage height correctly. For more information read the Hoos-Your Grazing Network bulletins or find useful articles on this page.
Another useful tool for managing pasture height is a grazing stick. The grazing stick is very helpful for beginning graziers who are wanting to determine stocking rates and the number of grazable days for a paddock. It is very helpful for training a person to determine forage availability and stocking rates. However, experience will prove to be the best teacher. For stocking rate problems, click here.