Grazing Systems Planning Guide

Is the thought of planning a rotational or management-intensive grazing system daunting to you? If you are new to the concept, you will probably appreciate this free guide from the University of Minnesota Extension Service—Grazing Systems Planning Guide.

The Grazing Systems Planning Guide is directed at beginners. It walks graziers through the planning process sequentially. The guide starts by evaluating current land and livestock resources before progressing to designing paddocks, fences, water systems, and heavy-use areas. Then comes a section on managing pastures for optimum performance, followed by a chapter on keeping records.

Along the way, the Grazing Systems Planning Guide answers key questions producers may have:

  • How many paddocks are needed for a rotational grazing system?
  • What kind of fence should I install?
  • How can I supply adequate water to the livestock?
  • What can I do to keep the areas around water facilities from becoming mudholes?
  • How do pasture and livestock management affect plant growth and forage quality?
  • When is increasing soil pH with lime important for forage production?
  • What are the cultural and mechanical brush and weed control alternatives for pastures?
  • How do I manage livestock be during times of drought or wet conditions?
  • How do I know I have enough forage available?

The appendices contain plenty of useful worksheets and factsheets, as well:

  • Livestock forage monthly balance sheet.
  • Identification keys for common forage species.
  • Worksheets for determining grassland condition and trends.
  • Water system design considerations.
  • Two methods for calculating the amount of forage in reserve.
  • A grazing plan checklist.

As you progress, you will doubtless have many more questions. In particular, you will need information tailored to your environment. However, this free guide is a concise and methodical introduction that will start you off on the right track.