Grazing Systems Planning Guide - Kevin Blanchet

 
Grazing Systems
                                                                                                                        Planning
   Publication made possible by
   the following organizations:                                                                                         Guide
¤ University of Minnesota Extension Service
¤ Natural Resources Conservation Service                                                                                      Kevin Blanchet
¤ University of Minnesota Water Resource Center
                                                                                                                                  University of Minnesota Extension Service
                                                                                                                            Howard Moechnig
                                                                                                                                    Natural Resources Conservation Service
                                                                                                                                 Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources
                                                                                                                            Jodi DeJong-Hughes
                                                                                                                                  University of Minnesota Extension Service

BU - 07606 - S
Revised 2003
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Appendix G. Calculated Method for Reserve Herd Days (RHD)

Kind and Number of Livestock:

Total Herd Weight:

Daily Allocation (Total Herd Weight x 0.04):

      (a)              (b)                (c)
                                       Forage
                                                        (d)
                                                    Pounds of
                                                                          (e)
                                                                    Pounds of Forage
                                                                                         (f)      (g)              Grazing Systems
Paddock No.          Acres            Available
                                       (inches)
                                                  Forage per acre
                                                     per inch*
                                                                        Available
                                                                       (b x c x d)
                                                                                       RHDs**   REMARKS

                                                                                                                   Planning
                                                                                                                   Guide

                                                                                                                                                                        Kevin Blanchet
                                                                                                                                                                        University of Minnesota Extension Service
                                                                                                                                                                        Howard Moechnig
                                                                                                                                                                        Natural Resources Conservation Service
                                                                                                                                                                        Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources
                                                                                                                                                                        Jodi DeJong-Hughes
                                                                                                                                                                        University of Minnesota Extension Service

* Refer to Table 6                                                                                        The information in this publication is for educational purposes only and any reference to commercial products or trade names intends no
** RHD = column (e) divided by Daily Allocation                                                           discrimination and implies no endorsement by the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
                                                                                                          For Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations, please call (800) 876-8636.
                                                                                                          The University of Minnesota Extension Service is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
44
TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                      Appendix F. Visual Method for Calculating Reserve Herd Days (RHD)

1. INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................................................... 4
                                                                                                                                                                Paddock No.        RHD                              Notes
    Grazing Management Systems

2. GRAZING RESOURCE INVENTORY ...................................................................................................... 6
    Goals
        What are my goals for the grazing system?
    Land and Soils
        What land resources are available for the grazing operation?
        What is the productivity of the soils?
        Are there sensitive land areas or soil limitations for grazing in the pasture?
    Livestock
        What are the forage requirements for each livestock herd?
        What are the plans for potential expansion of the livestock operation?
        How many herds will be grazed?
    Forages
        What are the existing forage species in the pasture?
        How healthy or in what condition is the pasture?
        What are the estimated yields and seasonal distribution of the existing forages?
    Water Sources
        What are the existing water sources and where are the drinking facilities?
        What are the other potential water sources?
    Fence
        What are the types and condition of the existing fences?

3. GRAZING PLAN DEVELOPMENT ........................................................................................................ 13
    Paddock Design and Layout
       How many paddocks are needed for a rotational grazing system?
       How do I decide paddock size?
       What are some considerations for paddock layout?
    Fence Design and Layout
       What kind of fence should I install?
    Water System Design and Layout
       How can I supply adequate water to the livestock?
       Where should drinking facilities be located?
    Heavy Use Area Planning
       What do I consider when planning livestock lanes?
       How do I stabilize the livestock lanes?
       How do I keep the area around water facilities from becoming mudholes?

4. PASTURE MANAGEMENT ...................................................................................................................... 19
    Pasture Forage and Livestock Management
        What is proper grazing management for the desired forage species?
        How do pasture and livestock management affect plant growth and forage quality?
        When do I start grazing in the spring?
        When do I move livestock from paddock to paddock?                                                                                                     Total RHDs
    Pasture Soil Fertility Management
        Can nutrients from livestock manure be utilized more efficiently in pastures?
        When is increasing soil pH with lime important for forage production?
        How much nitrogen fertilizer do I need to put on my pasture?
        Does phosphorus and potassium fertilizer improve pasture productivity?
  2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      43
D. Sling Pumps:                                                                                                                    Pasture Brush and Weed Control
     Sling pumps operate by the action of flowing water. The entire body of the sling pump rotates due to a propeller. Inside               Can unwanted weeds be controlled through grazing?
     the pump body is a coiled, open-ended tube. This tube alternately picks up water and air, and forces the water out through             What are the cultural and mechanical brush and weed control alternatives for pastures?
     an outlet hose. The water is normally stored in a tank and later distributed to the livestock. A wind-powered version is               When is control of brush and problem weeds with herbicides the best option?
     available for use on ponds.                                                                                                        Sacrificial Paddock Management
                                                                                                                                            How will the livestock be managed during times of drought or wet conditions?
          Advantages:                                                                                                                       Will sacrificial paddocks be rejuvenated after removal of livestock?
          •  Can operate in remote locations without an outside power source.
                                                                                                                                   5. GRAZING SYSTEM MONITORING ...................................................................................................... 27
          •  Low maintenance.
                                                                                                                                       Pasture Record Keeping
          •  Can pump for distances, just over 1 mile.                                                                                     How do I know I have enough forage available?
          •  Can lift water up to 80 feet.                                                                                                 Is the productivity of the pasture increasing?
          •  Low cost ($550-850).                                                                                                          Are the natural resources improving?
          •  Portable; easily moved from one water source to another.
                                                                                                                                   6. GRAZING PLAN EXAMPLE ................................................................................................................... 29
          Disadvantages:
          • Requires wind or water movement to operate.                                                                            7. REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................................ 33

     E. Hydraulic Ram Pumps:                                                                                                       8. APPENDICES .............................................................................................................................................. 34
     Ram pumps require flowing water, or water under pressure through a drive pipe, to operate. A minimum of 3 feet of fall is         A Livestock Forage Monthly Balance Sheet
     required to operate a ram pump. Normally, water is pumped to a storage tank for further distribution to drinking facilities       B1 Identification Key for Common Forage Species – Grass
     in paddocks.                                                                                                                      B2 Identification Key for Common Forage Species – Legume
                                                                                                                                       C1 Determining Grassland Condition/Trend
          Advantages:                                                                                                                  C2 Inventory Category Items
                                                                                                                                       D1 Average Forage Yields for Northern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin
          • Economical to operate.
                                                                                                                                       D2 Average Forage Yields for Southern Minnesota and Southern Wisconsin
          • No outside energy required, can operate in remote locations.                                                               E Water System Design Considerations
          • Reliable, with few moving parts.                                                                                           F Visual Method for Calculating Reserve Herd Days
          • Can lift water to a maximum of 250 feet.                                                                                   G Calculated Method for Reserve Herd Days
          • Can pump water for a relatively long distance.                                                                             H Grazing Plan Checklist
          Disadvantages:
          • Adequate water flow required to operate the pump.
          • Must be anchored to a solid base.
          • Not portable.
          • Must be protected from frost, or drained for the winter.
          • Overflow water must be drained from the area in which the pump is installed.
          • Cost range from $350 for a small pump to $7000 for a large pump.

42                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   3
Appendix E. Water Systems Design Considerations
                        Introduction                                                                                A. Ramps to Surface Water:
                                                                                                                    Restricted access points consist of ramps which direct livestock to drink from limited areas of a lake, pond, or stream.
                                                                                                                    During fence construction, a hard surface is installed to keep the livestock confined to the access point.
    This guide discusses the               Reducing costs and/or increasing     Components of a typical grazing
    components of a grazing system         production are the two avenues       plan:                                   Advantages:
    by taking you through the grazing      that livestock producers have for      • Goals of the farming                •  Livestock will not have free access to open water sources except at controlled points, helping to reduce water
    management planning process.           improving profitability. Focusing          operation                            quality problems.
    Information on grazing resource        on management and control of           • Summary of sensitive areas          • Capacity is not an issue, unless the water source is unreliable.
    inventory, plan development,           production and pasture resources       • Livestock summary and               • No power required.
    pasture management, and system         can be a cost reducing strategy. A         forage requirements
    monitoring is provided. Each           well-managed rotational grazing        • Fencing system                      Disadvantages:
    section has a series of questions      system can reduce or eliminate                                               • High cost of construction and maintenance.
                                                                                  • Livestock watering system
    that will lead you through the         the need for labor-intensive or                                              • Livestock still have access to open sources of water.
                                                                                  • Heavy use area protection
    decision-making process of             purchased inputs such as
                                                                                  • Forages                             • Lack of portability; livestock need to travel to the source of water to get a drink.
    developing your plan. Your             supplemental feed, nitrogen
    grazing plan will become               fertilizer, and weed and brush         • Grazing system
                                                                                      management                    B. Livestock Powered Pumps:
    customized to fit your operation       killers. Improved pasture
    depending upon how you answer          condition and higher forage                                              Livestock powered pumps (nose pumps) utilize a diaphragm pump which is lever-activated by the nose of the animal as
    the questions and integrate the        yields can also lead to more         For a complete grazing plan         they drink water from a cup cast into the unit.
    components. Pasture-based              animal production per pasture        checklist see appendix H.
    livestock systems can be               acre. Since feed costs are the                                               Advantages:
    profitable enterprises if the          major cost in almost all livestock   Grazing systems range from              • Simple and economical, costing half as much as a typical restricted access point.
    available resources are managed        operations, getting control of       continuous grazing of one area          • Easily moved from one water source to another and from paddock to paddock.
    effectively.                           them is critical.                    over a long period of time to           • No water storage required.
                                                                                intense rotational grazing on
                                                                                                                        • No power required.
    With approximately 16 percent of       Designing a grazing plan is the      small areas for short periods of
    Minnesota’s land in forage             first step in your pasture           time. Livestock systems that use
                                                                                                                        Disadvantages:
    production, our pasture land is an     management system. As you            continuous grazing of a pasture
                                                                                experience both overgrazing and
                                                                                                                        • Animals must be trained to use pumps.
    important economic resource.           follow the planning process, the                                             • Smaller animals, such as calves may not have the strength to use them.
    Grazing management, such as            strengths and weaknesses of your     undergrazing of forages. A
                                                                                rotational system provides a rest       • Sheep will not use a nose pump.
    rotational grazing that extends the    current system will become
                                                                                opportunity for forage plants so        • Generally can pump for distances less than 300 feet.
    amount of time that livestock can      apparent. The grazing plan
    meet their needs through grazing       should include all the               that they may regrow more               • Generally cannot lift water more than 30 feet.
    and reduces the need for               components of the grazing and        quickly. The rotational system          • Must be anchored to something solid or a heavy base.
    harvested feedstuffs, will lower       pasture system and serve as a        provides an opportunity to move
    feed costs and add to profitability.   map for making management            livestock based on forage growth,   C. Solar Powered Pumps:
                                           improvements.                        promote better pasture forage
                                                                                                                    Solar panels are used to power direct current electric motors, usually 12 or 24 volt. The pumps can run continuously or
                                                                                utilization, and extend the
                                                                                                                    the energy can be stored in a battery for use upon demand.
                                                                                grazing season. The advantages
                                                                                and disadvantages of three
                                                                                                                        Advantages:
                                                                                grazing management systems are
                                                                                                                        • Can operate in remote locations, no outside power required.
                                                                                listed on the following page.
                                                                                                                        • Low maintenance.
                                                                                                                        • Can pump water for long distances.
                                                                                                                        • Variety of pumps and panels allows customization for your site.

                                                                                                                        Disadvantages:
                                                                                                                        • Expensive ($1500-6000).
                                                                                                                        • Must store water. A three-day reserve is recommended.
                                                                                                                        • Not easily portable.

4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              41
Appendix D2. Average Forage Yields for Southern Minnesota and Southern Wisconsin                                                     Grazing Management Systems
                                                                  -----------------------% Availability by Month-----------------------   Continuous grazing                   Simple rotational grazing              Intensive rotational grazing
                                                                                                                                          is a one-pasture system where        is a system with more than one         is a system with many pastures,
                                      Quality                                                                                             livestock have unrestricted access   pasture in which livestock are moved   sometimes referred to as paddocks.
                 Species                             Yield         May       June       July          Aug           Sept        Oct       throughout the grazing season.       to allow for periods of grazing and    Livestock are moved frequently from
                                     (lb/a DM)
                                                                                                                                                                               rest for forages.                      paddock to paddock based on forage
         Cool Season Grasses                                                                                                                                                                                          growth and utilization.

                                       Good           5680          30         30         10           10            15           5
         Kentucky Bluegrass
                                       Poor           1900          10         40         10           15            15          10

                                       Good           6440          20         35         15           10            15           5
         Orchardgrass
                                       Poor           2260          10         30         10           20            20          10

                                       Good           6180          20         30         25           10            10           5
         Reed Canarygrass
                                       Poor           2720          20         30         20           10            15           5

                                       Good           6080          30         30         15           10            10           5
         Smooth Bromegrass
                                       Poor           2620          25         35         10           10            15           5

                                       Good           7940          20         30         20           10            15           5
         Tall Fescue
                                       Poor           2740          15         40         10           10            15          10

                                       Good           6260          25         35         10           10            15           5
         Timothy
                                       Poor           2340          10         45         10           15            15           5

         Warm Season Grasses
                                                                                                                                          Advantages                           Advantages                             Advantages
                                                                                                                                            • Requires less management           • Can increase forage                   • Highest forage production
                                       Good           5000          0          10         40           35            15           0         • Capital costs are minimal              production and improve                 and use per acre
         Big Bluestem
                                       Poor           2520          0          15         40           35            10           0                                                  pasture condition over              • Stocking rates can typically
                                                                                                                                          Disadvantages                              continuous grazing                     be increased
                                       G ood          5000          0          15         35           35            15           0
         Switchgrass
                                       Poor           2500          0          15         45           35             5           0          • Lower forage quality and          • Allows pastures to rest and           • More even distribution of
                                                                                                                                                 yields                              allows for forage regrowth             manure throughout the
                                       Good           5500          0          0          20           30            30          20                                                                                         paddocks
         Sudangrass                                                                                                                          • Lower stocking rate and less      • Can provide a longer grazing
                                       Poor           3000          0          0          40           45            15           0                                                                                      • Weeds and brush are usually
                                                                                                                                                 forage produced per acre            season, reducing the need for
                                                                                                                                                                                     feeding harvested forages              controlled through grazing
         Legumes                                                                                                                             • Uneven pasture use
                                                                                                                                                                                 • Better distribution of manure         • Provides more grazing
                                                                                                                                             • Greater forage losses due to
                                       Good           5820          20         25         35           20             0           0                                                  throughout the pasture                 options and reduces the need
         Alfalfa/grass                                                                                                                           trampling
                                       Poor           3000          20         25         35           20             0           0                                                                                         for mechanically harvested
                                                                                                                                             • Animal manure is distributed                                                 forages
                                       Good           5120          10         50         30           10             0           0              unevenly                      Disadvantages
         Birdsfoot Trefoil                                                                                                                                                        • Costs for fencing and water
                                       Poor           2500          10         50         30           10             0           0          • Weeds and other undesirable                                            Disadvantages
                                                                                                                                                 plants may be a problem              systems can be higher than
                                       Good           5500          25         40         20           10             5           0                                                                                       • Requires careful monitoring
         Red Clover/grass
                                       Poor           2750          25         40         20           10             5           0
                                                                                                                                                                                      with continuous grazing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             of forage supply
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Forage production and
         Source: Pastures for Profit: A Guide to Rotational Grazing, University of Minnesota, AG-FO-6145                                                                                                                  • Initial costs may be higher
         Alternative                                                                                                                                                                  pasture utilization is not as
         Good Conditforages
                     ion = lim(cool-season
                              e, P, K and splannual
                                              it N appforages)
                                                      lication plus rotational grazing management                                                                                                                            due to fencing materials and
         Poor Condition = no fertilizerGood
                                        added plus co3000
                                                      ntinuous gra55
                                                                   zing mana35 gement 10
                                                                                                                                                                                      high as intensive rotational
                                                                                                0        0                       0                                                                                           water distribution systems
         Oat                                                                                                                                                                          grazing systems
                                       Poor          1600          60         40       0        0        0                       0                                                                                        • Requires more management
                                      Good            2800         55          25         0             0            5           15
         Winter rye
                                      Poor            1200         65          25         0             0            5            5
                                      Good            2800         55          25         0             0            5           15
         Winter wheat
                                      Poor            1200         60          30         0             0            5            5
         Source: Pastures for Profit: A Guide to Rotational Grazing, University of Minnesota, AG-FO-06145
         1
           Good condition = lime, P, K and split N application plus rotational grazing management;
         Poor condition = no fertilizer added plus continuous grazing management

40                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     5
Distinguish land that is owned        Appendix D1. Average Forage Yields for Northern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin
                                                                                   from land that is rented. There
     Grazing Resource Inventory                                                    are certain management practices
                                                                                   that you can apply to your own
                                                                                   land that you may not be able to
                                                                                   do on rented land. Determine the
Goals                                                                              number of acres of the different
                                                                                   land parcels and label these on
What are my goals for the grazing          Annually, goals should be
                                                                                   the map (Diagram 1).
system?                                    reviewed and updated to fit the
    Establish well-thought-out goals       current situations and needs of
                                                                                   Is there additional land available
    to direct the development of a         the farm. After making a list of
                                                                                   that could be used for grazing?
    grazing plan. The goals on which       what you want to achieve with the
                                                                                   Often, cropland that is adjacent to
    to base future business,               resources you have available, you
                                                                                   pasture land may be better
    management, and production             are now ready to look at the
                                                                                   utilized by growing forages.
    strategies will be unique to your      management options to
                                                                                   Cropland in close proximity to
    own operation.                         accomplish your goals.
                                                                                   existing pastures is ideal for
                                                                                   converting to grazing if pasture
     Examples of goals include:         Land and Soils                             expansion is one of the farm
      • Increase livestock numbers                                                 goals. Identify and label on the
         and/or forage availability     What land resources are available          map cropland that could be used
      • Improve animal                  for the grazing operation?                 for grazing.
         performance                        Locate or draw a map showing
      • Reduce feed costs or labor          the boundaries of the land that    What is the productivity of the
      • Reduce soil erosion                 is available for grazing.          soils?
                                                                                   Map soil types and soil fertility
                                                                                   of your pastures. Soils vary
      Diagram 1. Land resources map                                                considerably in their ability to
                                                                                   support plant growth. Soil
                                                                                   productivity is partially
                                                              Aerial photos        determined by its ability to hold
                                                              from USDA-           water and nutrients and release
                                                              Farm Service         them to the plant, and by how
                                                             Agency provide        well plant roots can grow in the
                                                                 a good            soil. Actual crop yields achieved
                                                                base map           are a result of the interaction
                                                                                   between soil productivity, the
                                                                                   level of management, and
                                                                                   climatic factors (Diagram 2).

                                                                  Legend
      Diagram 2. Soils map

 6                                                                                                                                                                                                          39
Appendix C2. Inventory Category Items                                                    A County Soil Survey is a good         Limiting features also need to be
                                                                                                                        first step for determining soil        identified and referenced on a
                                                                                                                        types in your pastures. The            map. The most important source
                                                                                                                        publication contains general           of information is observed by
                                                                                                                        characteristics of each soil type,     walking the pasture with
1) Species Composition - Visually estimate the % composition by weight of each group of plants and assign               including soil texture, drainage,      somebody that is knowledgeable
   a value. The categories desirable, intermediate, and undesirable refer to the preferred use of the plants by         water holding capacity, and            in soils and soil management.
   the grazing animal, and intended use of the grazing land. The score ranges from “0”, with no or few                  organic matter content.                The Soil Survey publication for
   desirable or intermediate plant species, to “4”, which represents mostly desirable or intermediate plant             Estimated forage yields can be         your county will also provide
   species present.                                                                                                     calculated from “Pastures for          additional information on pasture
                                                                                                                        Profit” (see References section),      features found below the soil
2) Plant Diversity - Evaluate the number of different species of plants that are well represented on the site.          Appendix A, the local NRCS             surface.
                                                                                                                        Forage Suitability Groups, or
   If only one species of plant occurs, diversity is narrow; if eight or more species of plants are present,
                                                                                                                        farm records.                          Examples of soil limiting                           County soil
   diversity is broad. If 4-5 plant species are present, the score would be in the middle of this range.
                                                                                                                                                               features:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                information and
                                                                                                                    Are there sensitive land areas or             • Sandy soils which have a
3) Plant Density - Ignore plants classified as undesirable. Visually estimate the density of living desirable       soil limitations for grazing in the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  maps can be
                                                                                                                                                                      high potential for drought
   and intermediate plant species that would be present at a 2-inch stubble height. Ask yourself if there is        pasture?                                                                                  obtained from your
                                                                                                                                                                  • Shallow soils over bedrock
   room for more desirable plants? Scores range from Dense (>95%), Medium (75-85%), Sparse (40%, 1 = 30-39%, 2 = 20-29%, 3 = 10-19%, 4 =
Livestock                                                                                                           C1.CDetermining
                                                                                                                                                             1. DeterminingGrassland
                                                                                                                                                                           Grassland CCondition/Trend
                                                                                                                                                                                      ondition/Trend
                                     What are the forage requirements for each livestock herd?
                                       First, estimate the daily requirement for your herd:                                 Producer:
                                                                                                                                                                                              Date: _____________________________________________
                                                                                                                            __________________________________________
                                                     (# of animals) x (average weight) x (daily utilization rate)           County:
                                                                     = daily forage requirement                                                                                               Recorded By: _______________________________________
                                                                                                                            ____________________________________________
                                                                                                                            Tract #:
                                      Daily utilization rate = 0.04. This figure is used because livestock need to have     ____________________________________________
                                         access to approximately 4% of their live weight in forage (2.5% intake, 0.5%
                                         trampling loss, and 1% buffer).
                                                                                                                                                                                    Field #

                                          Example:                                                                                                                                   Acres
                                             (25 cow/calf pairs) x (1,200 lb. average weight) x (0.04) = 1,200 lbs/day                                                      Month & Year M __ Y __       M __ Y __   M __ Y __   M __ Y __   M __ Y __

                                          The daily forage requirement is used in Section 3, Grazing Plan Development,             Category                         Score                       Value      Value       Value       Value       Value
                                          Paddock Design and Layout.                                                        1) Species              Undesirable                 Desirable
                                                                                                                            Composition                 0    1        2     3     4
                                          Second, estimate the monthly and seasonal requirements for your herd:
                                                                                                                                                      Narrow                     Broad
                                                                                                                            2) Plant Diversity
                                                                                                                                                        0    1        2     3     4
                                                         (daily forage requirement) x (# of days per month)
                                                                    = monthly forage requirement                                                     Sparse                      Dense
                                                                                                                            3) Plant Density
                                          Example:                                                                                                      0   1         2     3     4
                                              (1,200 lbs/day) x (30 days) = 36,000 lbs. monthly forage requirement          4) Plant Vigor
                                                                                                                                                     Weak                        Strong
                                                                                                                                                       0        1     2     3     4
                                                 (daily forage requirement) x (# of days in the grazing season)                                    Less than 10%   More than 40%
                                                                                                                            5) Legumes in Stand
                                                                 = seasonal forage requirement                                                           0    1  2  3     4
                                          Example:                                                                                                 Deficient    Appropriate        Excess
                                             (1,200 lbs/day) x (150 days) = 180,000 lbs. seasonal forage requirement        6) Plant Residue
                                                                                                                                                          0     2  4     2         0
                                                                                                                                                   Spotty      Intermediate       Uniform
                                          The Livestock Forage Monthly Balance Sheet (Table 1 and Appendix A)               7) Uniformity of Use
                                                                                                                                                         0       1   2    3       4
                                          provides a simple method of computing monthly forage requirements.
                                                                                                                                                    Heavy           Moderate        Light
                                                                                                                            8) Severity of Use
                                                                                                                                                       0        2     4    2       0
                                          Remember, the primary goal of most livestock grazing systems is to produce
                                          weight gain on the livestock. An increase in animal size will result in an                               More than 40%   Less than 10%
                                                                                                                            9) Woody Canopy
                                          increase in estimated forage needs through the grazing season as long as animal                                0    1  2   3    4
                                          numbers do not change. Adjust livestock weights for each month to provide a       10) Soil Erosion
                                                                                                                                                    Severe          Moderate       Slight
                                          more realistic estimate of forage needs.                                                                      0       1     2    3       4

    Table 1. Livestock Forage Monthly Balance Sheet – Current Livestock Summary
                                                                         Forage Requirements Per Month
                                                                                  (lbs. x 1000)

       Kind/Class      Number of      Average       Monthly
                                                                  May        June   July   Aug    Sept   Oct
       Livestock        Animals       Weight       Utilization*

     Beef cow/calf         25           1200           1.2        36.0       36.0   36.0   36.0   36.0   36.0

     Herd bull              1           2000           1. 2                         2.4    2.4    2.4    2.4

     Totals                26                                     36.0       36.0   38.4   38.4   38.4   38.4

     * 0.04 daily utilization rate (includes forage waste) x 30 days/month
8                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        37
What are the plans for potential        Forages
     Appendix B2. Identification Key for Common Forage Species – Forage   expansion of the livestock
                                                                          operation?                              What are the existing forage species
                                                                             If an increase in herd size is a     in the pasture?
                                                                             goal of the operation, estimate          Forage grass and legume species
                                                                             what adjustments to forage will          each have their own unique
                                                                             be needed and consider how to            growth, persistence, and quality
                                                                             best meet those needs with forage        characteristics. Because they
                                                                             supply. Are there enough acres in        respond differently to soil
                                                                             the existing pasture to meet the         conditions, weather patterns,
                                                                             needs of the larger livestock            fertility, and grazing
                                                                             herd? What is the potential              management, the plants that are
                                                                             forage supply if improvements                                                  Assistance in identifying
                                                                                                                      currently growing in your
                                                                             are made to the pasture or grazing                                            your forage species can be
                                                                                                                      pastures may be different from
                                                                             system? This issue will be                                                       obtained at your local
                                                                                                                      one area to another. Identify
                                                                             addressed in following section on        dominant plant species and               USDA Agricultural
                                                                             forages.                                 areas in which they grow on               Service Center or
                                                                                                                      your pasture map. A walk                 Extension office. To
                                                                          How many herds will be grazed?              through the pastures is necessary     collect plant samples for
                                                                             Separating the grazing herd into         to gather this information. The        later identification, dig
                                                                             groups based on production,              plants you find during the initial    several plants along with
                                                                             animal species, animal size, or          inventory of your forage species        roots, and place them
                                                                             class differences should be              may or may not be the desired             between sheets of
                                                                             examined. When there is an               species for meeting the long-term
                                                                             increase in the number of herds,                                                newspaper. Remove all
                                                                                                                      goals of your grazing system.
                                                                             you will need to increase the                                                  soil from the roots before
                                                                                                                      Therefore, information on forage
                                                                             number of paddocks. When                                                      placing on the newspaper.
                                                                                                                      species growing in the pasture
                                                                             dividing the pasture consider:           may have an impact on future           To aid the plant drying
                                                                                • How many groups could               modifications to the grazing           process, apply an even
                                                                                    potentially be grazing at         system (Diagram 4).                   pressure or weight to the
                                                                                    the same time?                    Identification keys for grass and             newspaper.
                                                                                • Can the different groups            legume species are readily
                                                                                    graze next to each other?         available in Appendix B. Grass
                                                                                    (Don’t place male animals         species are often difficult to
                                                                                    in paddocks adjacent to           identify during early stages of
                                                                                    females in heat.)                 growth. Still, there is a need to
                                                                                                                      distinguish between grass species
                                                                                                                      because of potential differences
                                                                                                                      in forage yield and seasonal
                                                                                                                      growth patterns.

                                                                          Diagram 4. Forage map

36                                                                                                                                                                                       9
How healthy or in what condition is          What are the estimated yields and                                            Appendix B1. Identification Key for Common Forage Species – Grass
the pasture?                                 seasonal distribution of the existing
    Good pasture condition is critical       forages?
    to a successful grazing system.              Based on the plant species,
    Pasture quality may vary greatly             pasture condition, and soil types
    from one pasture area to another,            found in the pastures, forage
    but the trend over time should               yields and overall forage supply
    show the direction in which the              can be estimated for your grazing
    pasture condition is moving.                 system. Document the forage
    Determining Grassland                        yields in lbs./acre on the
    Condition/Trend (Appendix C1)                Livestock Forage Monthly
    is an evaluation tool to help                Balance Sheet (example of
    determine if pastures are in need            completed form is provided in
    of improvement and what areas                Table 3). Remember these are
    need the most improvement. It is             only estimates to provide a
    also a useful tool in evaluating             starting point for future planning.
    results of management decisions.             Changes in climatic conditions
    Determine the condition of your              from one year to the next can
    pastures by completing the                   drastically change forage
    Determining Grassland                        production and the outcome of
    Condition/Trend sheet (an                    seasonal forage supply.
    example of a completed form is
    provided in Table 2).
     Table 2. Determining Grassland Condition/Trend

                                         Field #                        Rented     Owned
                                         Acres                            30            55
                                  Month & Year                          M__Y__     M__Y__      M__Y__   M__Y__   M__Y__
     Category                            Score                           Value         Value   Value    Value    Value
     1) Species        Undesirable                    Desirable
                                                                           2            1
     Composition         0     1           2         3     4
     2) Plant           Narrow                           Broad
                                                                           1            1
     Diversity            0    1           2         3     4
     3) Plant           Sparse                           Dense
                                                                           2            2
     Density              0    1           2         3     4

     4) Plant           Weak                             Strong
                                                                           1            1
     Vigor                0       1        2         3      4

     5) Legumes         Less than 10%   More than 40%
                                                                           0            0
     in Stand              0     1    2    3      4

     6) Plant        Deficient        Appropriate          Excess
                                                                           2            2
     Residue               0      2       4    2           0

     7) Uniformity   Spotty      Intermediate             Uniform
                                                                           3            2
     of Use               0       1    2    3              4

     8) Severity      Heavy           Moderate              Light
                                                                           0            0
     of Use              0        2      4    2            0
     9) Woody          More than 40%               Less than 10%
                                                                           4            4
     Canopy                0     1         2         3      4

     10) Soil        Severe           Moderate             Slight
                                                                           2            1
     Erosion             0        1      2     3           4

10                                                                                                                                                                                            35
Appendix A. Livestock Forage Monthly Balance Sheet
                                                                                                                        Once the forage species and yield
        Producer: ______________________ Location: ______________________ Date: _____________                           estimates have been documented,                    Forage yield estimates for your grazing system can be
                                                                                                                        a monthly forage supply can be                          found in any of the following publications:
                                                                                                                        determined using the estimated                      • The County Soil Survey
                                                                        Forage Requirements Per Month                   forage production and seasonal                      • NRCS Field Office Technical Guide
     LIVESTOCK SUMMARY
                                                                                 (lbs. x 1000)                          distribution percentages. For                       • Pastures for Profit; A Guide to Rotational Grazing,
      Kind/Class      Number of       Average                                                                           specific forage yields and                            U of MN Extension Service
                                                              Apr     May   June    July   Aug    Sept   Oct            seasonal distribution using charts
      Livestock        Animals        Weight                                                                                                                                • Refer to Appendix D of this guide for yield estimates
                                                                                                                        from “Pastures for Profit,”
                                                      1.2*                                                              Natural Resources Conversation
                                                      1.2*                                                              Sevice (NRCS) Field Office           Example: Monthly available forage for orchardgrass in a pasture that is in poor
                                                                                                                        Technical Guide tables, or           condition is calculated in the following procedure:
                                                      1.2*                                                              information in Appendix D. The
                                                                                                                        estimated monthly values follow      Total Yield
                                                      1.2*
                                                                                                                        the seasonal growth patterns of                            (forage yield) x (acres) = forage production
                                                      1.2*                                                              the common forage species. This          Example:
                                                                                                                        exercise provides a good estimate        (2,500 lbs/acre) x (30 acres) = 75,000 lbs of forage (dry matter basis)
                                                      1.2*                                                              of the total amount of forage
                 Totals                                                                                                 available to livestock for any       Forage Availability Per Month
                                                                                                                        month of the grazing season.              (total yield) x (% forage available by month from Appendix D) =
     *0.04 Daily utilization rate (2.5% intake, 0.5% trampling loss, and 1% buffer) x 30 days/month                     Subtract the monthly requirement                               monthly available forage
                                                                                                                        from the monthly forage
                                                                                                                        production to:
                                                                            Forage Requirements Per Month                    • Indicate forage balance
     FORAGE SUMMARY                                                                                                                                                                        % Forage             Monthly Available forage
                                                                                     (lbs. x 1000)                               for the growing season                    Month
                                                                                                                                                                                           Available*                         (lbs./acre)
                          Kind of      Yield/                 Total                                                          • Predict excess forage
         Field                                       Acres            Apr   May    June    July   Aug    Sept   Oct              production by month                        May                10%         (75,000 lbs. x .10)       7,500
                          Forage       Acre                   Yield
                                                                                                                             • Predict where forage                         June               30%                      x .30       22,500
                                                                                                                                 shortages may occur by
                                                                                                                                                                            July               10%                      x .10        7,500
                                                                                                                                 month
                                                                                                                        Using the information in                           August              20%                      x .20       15,000
                                                                                                                        Appendix D, net yield and                      September               20%                      x .20       15,000
                                                                                                                        monthly available forage for
                                                                                                                        orchardgrass in a pasture that is                  October             10%                      x .10        7,500
                                                                                                                        in poor condition can be                    * From "Pastures for Profit" and NRCS Field Office Technical Guide
                                                                                                                        calculated.
                                                                                                                      Table 3. Livestock Forage Monthly Balance – Current Forage Summary

     Total lbs., Produced from Forage (x 1000)

     Total lbs., Required for Livestock (x 1000)
34                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           11
     Total lbs., Excess or Deficiency (x 1000)
Water Sources                            What are the other potential water
                                                                                   sources?
                                           What are the existing water sources        Changes to the grazing system
                                                                                      may require making
                                                                                                                                                      References
                                           and where are the drinking
                                           facilities?                                improvements to your livestock
                                               Water is essential. Without an         watering system. Are there other
                                               adequate supply of quality water,      potential water sources that could
                                                                                                                              Fertility, Weed Control and Species Selection for Productive Pastures.” 1998. Greg Cuomo. In Proc. 1998 “Grazing
                                               animal health, weight gain, or         be made available to the pasture?
                                                                                                                              Management, Pasture Fertility, Weed Control and Species Selection for Productive Pastures.” 1998. Greg Cuomo. In
                                               milk production can be negatively      Do you need to drill a new well?
                                                                                                                              Proc. 1998 Minnesota Beef Cow/Calf Report. P. 23-28.
                                               affected. Locate on a map the          Where is the best site for a new
                                               water sources and drinking             well? Is there a water source
                                                                                                                              Minnesota Beef Cow/Calf Report. P. 23-28.
                                               facilities that are currently          nearby where water can be
                                               available to the grazing herd          obtained by constructing a
                                                                                                                              “Improve Your Pasture in Five Easy Steps.” T. Hovde, B. Stommes, L. Williams, L. Zilliox, J. Siira. University of
                                               (Diagram 5). Note all possible         pipeline system? These
                                                                                                                              Minnesota Extension Service and Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
                                               sources such as streams, ponds,        additional sources provide you
                                               wells, or springs. By viewing          with options when making
                                                                                                                              “Pastures for Profit: A Guide to Rotational Grazing.” 2002. University of Wisconsin (A3529) and University of
                                               these on a map, we can see how         decisions on improving your
                                                                                                                              Minnesota Extension Service publication FO-06145.
                                               far livestock have to travel to        water system.
                                               receive water. Consider these                                                  “Pasture Management Guide for Livestock Producers.” 1998. Iowa State University Extension publication Pm-1713.
                                               questions when making                   If you are not certain of the water
                                               decisions:                              quality, tests should be performed
                                                                                                                              “Alfalfa Management Guide.” 2002. North Central Regional Extension Publication #NCR547.
                                                  • Are there seasonal changes         to determine whether the water is
                                                       in the water supply?            satisfactory for consumption by
                                                                                                                              “Fertilizer Recommendations for Agronomic Crops in Minnesota.” 2001. University of Minnesota Extension Service
                                                       Shallow wells or small          livestock. Good, clean water is
                                                                                                                              publication BU-06240-S.
                                                       streams will often dry up       especially critical to producers
                                                       during late summer or           who expect high animal
                                                                                                                              “Impact of Grazing Cattle on Distribution of Soil Minerals.” 1986. James Gerrish, James Brown, and Paul Peterson. In
                                                       during times of drought.        performance – as with milking
                                                                                                                              Proc. 1995 National Forage & Grassland Council.
                                                                                       cows, stockers, and replacement
                                                  • If water is being hauled to
                                                                                       dairy heifers – although benefits
                                                       the animals, how much                                                  “Pasture Weed Control.” 1997. Roger Becker and Greg Cuomo. In Proc. Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Annual
                                                                                       are realized for other classes of
                                                       storage is available?                                                  Meeting, St. Cloud, MN.
                                                                                       livestock as well.
                                                  • Is a nearby source of
                                                       electricity available?                                                 “Forage Legumes: Clovers, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Cicer Milkvetch, Crownvetch, Sainfoin and Alfalfa.” 1993. University of
                                                  • Will the existing water        Fencing                                    Minnesota Extension Service, SB-5963-F.
                                                       sources be able to
Diagram 5. Existing water and fence location map       accommodate a pumping       What are the types and condition of        “Identifying Pasture Grasses.” 1996. University of Wisconsin-Extension A3637.
                                                       system that does not        the existing fences?
                                                       require electricity?            Know the kind and condition of         “Using All-weather Geotextiles for Lanes and Paths.” 1999. Kevin Janni, Brian Holmes, and Ted Funk. Midwest Plan
                                                                                       existing fences. Map the               Service publication AED-45.
                                                                                       location of these fences
                                                                                       including both perimeter and           “Stockman’s Guide to Range Livestock Watering from Surface Water Sources.” Prairie Agricultural Machinery
                                                                                       interior fences (Diagram 5).           Institute: Manitoba, Canada.
                                                                                       Will the condition and location of
                                                                                       the existing fence meet the needs
                                                                                       of the grazing system? Should
                                                                                       you plan to improve or change the
                                                                                       location of any of the fences? Do
                                                                                       not be locked in on the location
                                                                                       of existing fences. Are there
                                                                                       other livestock handling facilities
                                                                                       available such as corrals, dry lots,
                                                                                       barns, or sheds that are part of the
                                                                                       pasture or grazing system?

12                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                33
The hay field will be used for
Grazing System                             grazing during the summer after a        forage growth will slow
Management                                 crop of hay has been harvested
                                           and regrowth is sufficient. This
                                                                                    considerably. The livestock
                                                                                    should be moved at a slower pace
                                                                                                                                 Grazing Plan Development
     The key to maintaining vigorous       will provide high quality forage         through the paddocks. If
     vegetation is to avoid                for mid- to late summer, and will        minimum stubble height cannot
     overgrazing. The forage plants        allow an extended rest period for        be maintained, confine the
     will recover from grazing without     the other paddocks at a time of          livestock to a portion of one of       Paddock Design and Layout
     depleting root reserves only if       the season when they need it (35-        the paddocks (a sacrificial
     there is adequate leaf area           50 days). The hay field will be          paddock) and provide them with             The development of a grazing           Grazing periods longer than 6
     remaining to meet the food            subdivided by temporary fence            emergency feed until they can be           plan involves the following:           days will damage new regrowth.
     requirements of the plant.            into 3 paddocks to allow better          put back into a regular rotation.             • Determining how many              The grazing of new growth
                                           management of the forages.               Do not use any of the sensitive                   paddocks are required and       diminishes the ability of the
     Initiate grazing in early spring                                               areas as sacrificial paddocks.                    their size and shape            forage plants to regrow quickly,
     when the orchardgrass is 3-4          The balance of forage available                                                        • Determining the kind of           resulting in an overall yield
     inches tall, reed canarygrass is      and forage required indicates that       Regrowth of the forage prior to                   fence and locations             reduction for the pasture. A
     4-5 inches tall, and the grass in     there will be significant periods        fall freeze-up is important for               • Determining how water             shorter grazing period is
     the Kentucky bluegrass paddocks       of time during September and             maintaining health and vigor of                   will be provided to the         associated with livestock
     is 2 inches high. Because the         October when the livestock will          the plants through the winter.                    livestock                       operations where livestock
     grass growth in the spring is         need to be placed into a                 Prior to a killing frost, the forage                                              performance is essential, such as
     rapid, the livestock should be        sacrificial paddock in late              should have 6 inches of regrowth       How many paddocks are needed for           with milking cows. Longer
     moved through the system from         summer and early fall and fed hay        on the reed canarygrass and            a rotational grazing system?               grazing periods are more typical
     paddock to paddock at a fairly        because there will not be                orchardgrass, and 4 inches on              The minimum number of                  of beef cow/calf operations, ewe/
     rapid pace, every 1-2 days if         adequate forages for grazing in          Kentucky bluegrass. Since these            paddocks in a system is                lamb operations, and maintaining
     possible. As the grass growth         the pastures. Plan on having hay         heights are not possible to attain         dependent upon the length of the       dry cows.
     slows later in the growing season,    on hand for this from the harvest        on all paddocks, manage one                rest period that is required for the
     slow the rotation through the                                                  third of the paddocks so that they                                                           Table 4. Optimal rest period for forage species
                                           of excess available in June and                                                     forages. The lengths of the rest
     paddocks to an approximate            July.                                    get the required regrowth each             periods for grasses and legumes
     interval of 4-6 days, basing                                                   year, and then alternate this              can be found in Table 4. The rest
     movement of the livestock on:         Paddock 1 will be used as the            treatment from one year to the             period allows time for the forage
        • The minimum stubble              sacrificial paddock when                 next. This regrowth can be                 plants to regrow, producing
            heights of the forages:        necessary. This paddock is less          grazed to the minimum stubble              forage for the next grazing cycle.
              2 inches for Kentucky        erodible than the others and does        heights as stockpiled forage after         The length of the rest period
               bluegrass                   not contain sensitive areas. This        the forages go dormant, about              varies throughout the growing
              3 inches for orchardgrass    paddock is easily accessible for         mid-October.                               season. When preparing your
              4 inches for reed            emergency feeding.                                                                  plan, use an average length or
               canarygrass                                                          Fertilization of the pastures will         longer length of time (25-30
        • The minimum required             During very wet weather,                 be done to ensure optimum                  days). Using less than the                The minimum number of paddocks for each herd in the pasture
            regrowth:                      livestock traffic may cause              yields. Fertilizer applications            average length of time will result
                                                                                    will be based on soil tests and                                                      system is equal to:
              4 inches for Kentucky        excessive damage to the soil or                                                     in a plan with too few paddocks
                bluegrass                  the forage. If this occurs, move         economic analysis. The pH of the           or paddocks that are too large.
              6 inches for orchardgrass    the livestock from paddock to            soil will be maintained between                                                          Paddock              Rest period (days)
              8 inches for reed            paddock more rapidly, or confine         6.0 to 7.0.                                Another component used in                             =                                             +   1
                                                                                                                                                                             Number               Grazing period (days)
                canarygrass                the animals to the feedlot (or use                                                  determining the number of
                                           a sacrificial paddock) and provide      Overwintering will not be done              paddocks is the grazing period.
     The number of actual grazing          them with emergency feed.               on this pasture system. Each                The length of the grazing period                             Guidance on paddock
     days will vary with the size of the   When conditions improve, put the        paddock will be clipped as the              in each paddock is based upon                              management is provided in
     paddock, and in practice it will      livestock back into a regular           livestock are rotated out if needed         the desired level of management,
                                                                                   to control weeds.
                                                                                                                                                                                          the Pasture Management
     vary with the condition of the        rotation.                                                                           availability of labor, performance
                                                                                “Grazing Management, Pasture                   objective for the livestock, and                                    section
     forage, how much grazing
     pressure has been applied in the      During very dry weather, the                                                        growth characteristics of forages.
     past, weather conditions, and time
     during the grazing season.

32                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         13
The required size of the paddock for average growth conditions is equal to:                 How do I decide paddock size?                                         Livestock Watering System              Forages                                   To provide better quality and
                                                                                                 Paddock size is based upon                                                                                                                          quantity of forages during the
     Paddock Size = (daily herd forage requirement) x (days in grazing period)                   providing an adequate supply                                         Water will be delivered from the       The existing forages in these           midsummer slump that cool
                           (lbs. forage available per acre)                                      of available forage to meet the                                      well through a high-density            pastures are:                           season grasses go through, the
                                                                                                 requirements of the herd. This                                       plastic hose system laid on top of                                             alfalfa/bromegrass hay field
  Daily herd forage requirement            Total weight of the herd times 0.04                   would be a simple task if the                                        the ground (Diagram 8). Portable       Paddocks 7, 8, 9, 10:                   will be utilized after one crop
                                           utilization rate (refer to the livestock              forages grew at the same rate                                        tanks will be used as drinking                    Orchardgrass                 of hay has been harvested.
                                           inventory from Table 1).                              throughout the season. We                                            facilities. They will be moved         Paddocks 5, 6:
  Grazing period                           Length of time animals are in                         know this is not the case. For                                       with the herd as they graze                       Reed Canarygrass             Yields are estimated on Table
                                           paddock.                                              example, cool season grass                                           through the pasture system.            Paddocks 1, 2, 3, 4:                    11. These are only esti mates
  Pounds of forage available per acre      Measured height of forage minus                       growth is very rapid in the                                          Approximately 6,400 feet of                       Kentucky Bluegrass           based upon expected yields
                                           minimum stubble height (from Table                    spring, slows considerably                                           pipeline is required, along with                                               with the planned improvements
                                           5) x pounds of forage per acre per                    during the hot summer months                                         two portable tanks. Refer to           The current condition of the            in place. Actual yields should
                                           inch of height (from Table 6).                        of July and August, and                                              Diagram 8 for locations of the         forages is poor. To improve the         be determined when the
                                                                                                 increases somewhat again in                                          water pipelines.                       pastures all paddocks, except for       rotational grazing system is in
Table 5. Minimum height (in inches) of pasture species for initiating and terminating grazing    the fall.                                                                                                   the area of reed canarygrass, will      place. The grazing system will
                                                                                                                                                                      The pipelines and tanks do not         be frost seeded with clover to          require monitoring to
                                           Begin Grazing                                        End Grazing                     Clearly, for a given herd the         require frost protection, since        provide nitrogen for increased yield    maximize forage utilization
                             Initial Grazing           Minimum &                                                                area required to produce the          they will be drained every fall        and to improve the nutritional value    without overgrazing.
                             Height in Early        Optimum Height of          Minimum Stubble          Minimum Regrowth
 Species                         Spring*            Vegetative Growth              Height**             before Killing Frost
                                                                                                                                necessary forage for the              prior to freezing. The stream will     of the forage mix.
                                                                                                                                planned grazing period will not       provide water for the livestock in
 Alfalfa                                                  Bud Stage                      -                        6***
                                                                                                                                be the same throughout the            the event that the well of pipline
 Creeping Foxtail                    6                      8-10                         3                         6            grazing season. The strategy                                                             Diagram 7. Fence Location Map
                                                                                                                                                                      should fail.
 Green Needlegrass                  4-5                     6-8                          3                         5            for dealing with this variability
 Inter. Wheatgrass                  4-5                     8-14                         4                         6            is this:
                                                                                                                                   • Plan using average             Heavy use Area Protection
Kentucky Bluegrass                   2                      4-6                          2                         4
                                                                                                                                       growing conditions.
 Orchardgrass                       3-4                     6-10                         3                         6
                                                                                                                                   • Vary the length of the           Where the lanes cross the stream,
 Perennial Ryegrass                 3-4                     5-7                          3                       4****
                                                                                                                                       grazing period                 the stream banks and channel will
Pubescent                           4-5                     8-14                         4                         6                   throughout the grazing         be shaped and stream crossings
Wheatgrass
                                                                                                                                       season when paddock            will be installed using heavy use
Reed Canarygrass                    4-5                     8-8                          4                         6                   size is fixed.                 area protection measures.
                                                                                                                                                                      Because the water tanks are
Russian Wildrye                      4                      5-7                          3                         4               • Vary the size of the
                                                                                                                                                                      portable they do not require
 Slender Wheatgrass                 4-5                     6-12                         3                         6                   paddock when the size is
                                                                                                                                                                      heavy use area protection.
 Smooth Brome                        4                      8-14                         4                         6
                                                                                                                                       not fixed, as in a strip
                                                                                                                                       grazing system.
 Tall Fescue                         4                      6-10                         3                         6                                                                                                      Diagram 8. Water Location Map
 Tall Wheatgrass                    4-5                     8-14                         4                         6

 Timothy                             4                      6-10                         4                         5

 Western Wheatgrass                  4                      6-10                         4                         5

Big Bluestem                                                10-14                        6                         6

Indiangrass                                                 10-14                        6                         6

Little Bluestem                                              5-7                         3                         4

 Sand Bluestem                                              8-14                         6                         6

 Sideoats Grama                                             5-7                          3                         4

 Switchgrass                                                12-20                        8                         10

Source: Minnesota NRCS Conservation Practice Standard #528A, Prescribed Grazing.
* This applies only to the initial grazing in the spring (early May). The livestock must be moved rapidly through the
     paddocks during this time to prevent overgrazing and to keep the forage from “getting ahead of the livestock.”
** Minimum stubble height is critical if stand is to be maintained. This applies to that part of the grazing season after the
     initial rapid growth period in early May, as well as the end of the grazing season.
*** The last harvest of alfalfa for pasture or hay should generally be made 35-45 days prior to the time when the first hard
     freeze typically occurs.
**** Regrowth should be grazed to 2 inches after dormancy and prior to snow cover.

14                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     31
October. The forage balance                                 Fencing System                          The paddock size times the                 more uniform grazing. Long,                          Paddock layout will also be
                                                                indicates that some of the pasture                                                                  minimum number of paddocks                 narrow paddocks generally are                        influenced by the location of lanes
                                                                may be harvested for hay in the                             Perimeter fences are already in         provides us with the minimum               overgrazed at one end and                            for the movement of livestock.
                                                                spring, and this will be done                               place and are in adequate               required size of the total pasture         underutilized at the other end.                      These lanes should connect all
                                                                when weather conditions appear                              condition. Interior fences will be      unit. If the existing pasture is           Paddocks should be planned so                        paddocks so that livestock can be
                                                                to be favorable to forage                                   constructed to subdivide the            larger than this minimum area,             that livestock do not have to                        moved to any paddock from the
                                                                regrowth. This will provide feed                            pasture into paddocks using 1 or        more paddocks can be planned               travel more than 800 feet to get                     one they currently occupy,
                                                                for the months of September and                             2 strands of high tensile wire.         for. This will likely provide more         water. This will encourage more                      allowing for maximum flexibility
                                                                October. Refer to the Grazing                               Locations of the fences are shown       than enough forage in the spring,          water consumption by the                             in forage management.
                                                                System Management portion of                                on the Grazing Plan Map                 some of which could then be                livestock and more uniform
                                                                this plan for information related                           (Diagram 7).                            harvested for hay. Having more             grazing within the paddock.
                                                                to grass management and                                                                             paddocks than the required                 Livestock tend to utilize the
                                                                sacrificial paddocks to be used                             The installation of the interior        minimum will reduce the risk of            forages close to water much more
                                                                during this time period.                                    fences will break the pasture unit      running out of forage during the           than forages farther from the
                                                                                                                            into ten paddocks, ranging from         midsummer slump that cool                  water. Additional adjustments
                                                                                                                            7-10 acres each. Approximately          season pastures normally                   may be required based upon
                                                                                                                            13,000 feet of interior fence is        experience.                                access to water sources, which
                                                                                                                            required for this system. During                                                   may have an impact on the shape
                                                                                                                            periods of average growth, each         If the acreage of the required             of the paddocks in a grazing
                                                                                                                            paddock will be capable of              minimum number of pastures is              system, particularly in situations
Table 11. Livestock Forage Monthly Balance Sheet – Current Forage Summary                                                   approximately 2-4 days of               more than the existing pasture             where natural water sources, such
                                                                                                                            grazing. In addition to                 acreage, additional acreage                as ponds and streams, are
                                                                            Forage Availability Per Month                                                           should be devoted to pasture to            utilized.
                                                                                    (lbs x 1000)                            subdividing the pasture, lanes
                                   Forage              Total                                                                                                        avoid running out of usable
                                    Yield              Yield                                                                will be constructed. The lanes
  Field      Kind of Forage      (lbs/acre)   Acres    (lbs)      May      June      July          Aug      Sept     Oct    will allow movement of the              forage during the midsummer
                 Red Clover/                                                                                                livestock from a paddock to any         slump.
 Rented                            4,500       30     135,000     33.8      54.0     27.0          13.5     6.8      0.0
                 Orchardgrass
                                                                                                                            other without passing through a
                 Red Clover/                                                                                                                                     What are some considerations for
 Owned
                 K. Bluegrass
                                   3,500       38     133,000     33.3      53.2     26.6          13.3     6.7      0.0    recently grazed paddock.
                                                                                                                                                                 paddock layout?
 Owned      Reed Canarygrass       3,500       17      59,500     11.9      17.9     14.9          6.0      6.0      3.0
                                                                                                                                                                    Some adjustments need to be          Table 6. Estimated dry matter yield per acre-inch for various forages at three stand
                   S.
 Owned
            Bromegrass/Alfalfa
                                   4,500       20      49,500    for hay   for hay   31.5          18.0     0.0      0.0                                            made to the size of each paddock              densities
                                                                                                                                                                    so they have equal productivity.      Forage                                          Stand Density1
                                                                                                                                                                    The information gathered during                                          Fair*            Good**         Excellent***
                                                                                                                                                                    the inventory process is useful
Total lbs. Forage Available (x 1000)                  377,000     79.0     125.1     100.0         50.8     19.5     3.0
                                                                                                                                                                    when determining the paddock                                                              lb. Dry matter/acre-inch
Total lbs. Forage Required by Livestock (x 1000)      312,000     50.4      50.4     52.8          52.8     52.8     52.8
                                                                                                                                                                    layout. Each paddock should           Bluegrass/White Clover                   150-250            300-400         500-600
Total lbs. Forage Excess or Deficiency (x 1000)        65,000     28.6      74.7     47.2          -2.0     -33.3   -49.8                                           have:                                 Tall Fescue+Nitrogen Fert.               150-250            250-350         350-450
                                                                                                                                                                         • Similar soils (refer to        Tall Fescue/Legume                       100-200            200-300         300-400
                                                                                                                                                                            Diagram 2)                    Smooth Bromegrass/Legumes                150-250            250-350         350-450
                                                                                                                                                                         • Similar slope aspect           Orchardgrass/Legumes                     100-200            200-300         300-400
Table 12. Livestock Forage Monthly Balance Sheet – Current Livestock Summary
                                                                                                                                                                            (north facing, south          Mixed Pasture                            150-250            250-350         350-450
                                                                           Forage Requirements Per Month
                                                                                                                                                                            facing, etc.)                 Alfalfa or Red Clover                    150-250            200-250         250-300
                                                                                    (lbs x 1000)
 Kind/Class         Number of Average              Monthly                                                                                                               • Similar topography             Native Tall Warm-Season Grasses          50-100             100-200         200-300
 Livestock           Animals  Weight              Utilization      May        June       July             Aug       Sept    Oct                                          • Similar forages (refer to     Source: USDA-NRCS (MN)
      Beef                                                                                                                                                                  Diagram 4)                   1
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Stand condition is based on visual estimate of green plant ground cover after being grazed to a 2-4
                         35            1200           1.2          50.4       50.4          50.4          50.4      50.4    50.4                                                                         inch stubble height.
     cow/calf
                                                                                                                                                                                                         * Fair Condition: Less than 75% ground cover or greater than 25% bare ground.
     Herd bull
                                                                                                                                                                    The shape of the paddocks is         ** Good Condition: 75-90% ground cover or 10-25% bare ground.
                          1            2000           1 .2                                   2.4          2.4       2.4     2.4
                                                                                                                                                                    significant. Paddocks should be      *** Excellent Condition: At least 90% ground cover or less than 10% bare ground.
                                                                                                                                                                    as square as possible to promote

Totals                   36                                        50.4       50.4          52.8          52.8      52.8    52.8
*0.04 daily utilization rate (includes forage waste) x 30 days/month.
30                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          15
Fence Design and Layout
                                                                                                                                                                                                    b.) The flood-prone area can
What kind of fence should I install?                          2. Woven Wire Fences
                                                                 Woven wire is a traditional type of fence. It is
                                                                                                                                 Grazing Plan Example                                                   easily be damaged by
                                                                                                                                                                                                        livestock traffic during
  The kind of fence that should be installed depends
  upon:                                                          used primarily for hogs and sheep. Woven wire                                                                                          periods of wet weather or
     • Purpose of the fence                                      fences normally have one or two strands of                                                                                             shortly after flooded
                                                                 barbed wire installed above the woven wire.              This section presents an example     cause streambank erosion                 conditions. Proper
     • Kind and class of livestock to be contained                                                                        of a grazing plan. It represents a   as well as degrade water
                                                              Advantages:                                                                                                                               monitoring of the grazing
     • Operator preference                                                                                                starting point for a rotational      quality. Manage these
                                                              • Not dependent on electrical power. Is useful in                                                                                         system will avoid damage
     • Predator control                                                                                                   grazing system. Seven elements       resources by breaking the                to this area.
                                                                 remote locations.
     • Cost                                                                                                               of the plan are illustrated:         pasture into smaller
                                                              • Provides barrier for smaller kinds of livestock
                                                                                                                           • Sensitive Areas                   paddocks and reducing the            c.) The steep slope (Diagram
                                                                 (sheep, hogs).
     Permanent or temporary fences may define                                                                              • Livestock Summary                 amount of time the                       6), which is also drought
                                                              Disadvantages:
     paddocks within the grazing unit. During initial                                                                      • Fencing System                    livestock have access to                 prone, is a sensitive area
     stages of paddock layout many producers prefer to
                                                              • Cannot be powered, provides only a physical                • Livestock Watering System         any segment of the stream.
                                                                 barrier.                                                                                                                               because it is easily
     use temporary fences to create paddocks and lanes.                                                                    • Heavy Use Area Protection                                                  damaged by over-
     This allows for easy adjustment of the layout as         • Requires much labor to install.                            • Forages                           Currently the streambanks                utilization and livestock
     producers learn what size paddock they need, how to      • Not easily moved.                                          • Grazing System Management         are in poor condition in                 traffic. This area can be
     easily accomplish livestock movement, and how            • Weed and vegetative growth promotes snow                                                       some locations. This is                  managed closely by
     forages react to managed grazing. After gaining             piling.                                                  This plan is based upon the          due to the livestock                     subdividing the pasture
     experience, the producers usually install some type                                                                  information gathered in the          traveling to the stream to               into paddocks, rotating the
     of permanent fence to define paddocks and lanes.         3. Barbed Wire Fences                                       inventory phase of plan              get water. Reduce the                    grazing, and monitoring
                                                                 Barbed wire is a traditional type of fence, which        development.                         impact of the herd on the                the condition of the forage
     A. Permanent Fences:                                        is still quite popular. Barbed wire fences should                                             stream by subdividing the                and soil to prevent
        Permanent fences are used for the perimeters of          be at least 4 strands for perimeter fences. When      Sensitive Areas                         pasture, rotating the                    damage.
        pasture systems, livestock corrals, and handling         used for interior fences, they are typically 3 or 4                                           grazing, and providing
                                                                                                                          The following sensitive areas are
        facilities. Sometimes they are used to subdivide         strands. Barbed wire should never be electrified                                              alternative drinking
                                                                 because of greater potential for animal injury.
                                                                                                                          identified in this grazing unit
                                                                                                                                                               facilities for the livestock.
                                                                                                                                                                                               Livestock Summary
        pastures into paddocks. This is especially true
                                                                                                                          (Diagram 6):
        for certain kinds and classes of livestock, such as   Advantages:                                                                                      With the planned                  Currently there are 25 cow/calf
        bison.                                                • Not dependent upon electrical power, thus is                                                   subdivision of the pasture,       pairs using the pasture. This plan
                                                                                                                             a.) The stream flowing
                                                                 useful in remote areas.                                                                       the livestock will have           considers increasing the size of
                                                                                                                                 through the pasture is a
     1. High Tensile Wire Fences                              • Most producers are experienced with                                                            access to the stream from         the herd to 35 cow/calf pairs.
                                                                                                                                 sensitive area because
        This is a relatively new type of fence, which has        construction of barbed wire fences.                                                           only three paddocks.              The average weight of the cows is
                                                                                                                                 uncontrolled access to this
        become increasingly popular in recent years.          Disadvantages:                                                                                                                     1200 pounds. These animals are
                                                                                                                                 area by the livestock will
        Typically perimeter fences are 4-6 strands of         • Not easily moved.                                                                                                                currently managed as one herd.
        wire and interior fences are 1-2 strands of wire.     • Provides only a physical barrier.                        Diagram 6. Pasture Inventory Map
                                                                                                                                                                                                 In addition, a herd bull with an
     Advantages:                                              • Susceptible to damage from snow accumulation.                                                                                    average weight of 2000 pounds,
     • Relatively easy to install and maintain.                                                                                                                                                  will be used.
     • Can be powered to provide a psychological as           B. Temporary Fences:
        well as physical barrier.                                The primary uses of temporary fence are to                                                                                      Monthly and season-long forage
     • Several contractors available to do installation.         define paddocks within a pasture system, direct                                                                                 requirements are estimated on the
     Disadvantages:                                              the grazing within a paddock to areas that are                                                                                  Livestock Forage Monthly
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Balance Sheet (Table 11). This
     • Requires some special equipment, such as a post           being underutilized, and to fence in areas that
                                                                 are grazed only occasionally or not part of a                                                                                   indicates that there will be a
        driver for installing wooden posts.
                                                                 regularly-rotated pasture system.                                                                                               surplus of forage on a season-
     • Fences with several strands of wire are not easily
                                                                                                                                                                                                 long basis. The monthly balance
        moved.
                                                                  Temporary fences are usually constructed with                                                                                  indicates that there will be
     • Wire is difficult to handle if fence is to be                                                                                                                                             adequate to surplus quantities of
        moved.                                                    step-in posts and polywire, polytape, light gauge
                                                                  steel or aluminum wire, and require an electrical                                                                              forage through July, and a very
                                                                  source. Easy and quick to move, these fences do                                                                                small shortage of forage in
                                                                  not require tools for setup. In addition, these                                                                                August. A rather large
                                                                  fences are very light and do not require bracing.                                                                              deficiency occurs during the
                                                                                                                                                                                                 months of September and

16                                                                                                                                                                                                                               29
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