|Latest Angus University webinar discusses key grazing management strategies.|
Grass — vital to producers’ cattle and their profit. With factors like stocking rates, input costs and soil vigor all play a part in pasture management, how do cattlemen decide where to place their focus?
“We’re not going out there trying to change what you’ve already got,” said Hugh Aljoe, director of producer relations with the Noble Research Institute. “We first need to make good use of what exists, and then, and only then, cost effectively fill forage gaps of quantity and quality.”
During the Angus University webinar, Gear up for Grazing, held March 28, Aljoe explained how to make better use of existing ranch resources and improve overall grazing practices.
Two factors in grazing management are stocking rate and carrying capacity and they regularly get confused. Stocking rate measures forage demand or the number of animals grazing, while carrying capacity is the amount of forage supply being grown, Aljoe said. What’s needed is a balance between the two.
“The number one rule of grazing management is to actively manage the stocking rate at or below carrying capacity,” Aljoe said. “What this does is maintain a measure of flexibility within our operation.”
Aljoe explained that for every year a pasture sits overstocked, typically due to fluctuating rainfall, it takes about two years to recover. He proposes the solution of setting a stocking rate for approximately 80% of average rainfall — leading to a more manageable overstocking of about one in six years.
“If you’re doing a really good job with your breeding program, a good job with your nutrition program, and you like the livestock you have, you can carry your own calf crop later into the season to find a better economic marketing opportunity,” Aljoe said.
While the simple solution to a depleting forage supply may be to supplement with hay, this turns into an expensive practice. Aljoe recommends providing intentional grazing allocations to prolong the grazing season.
“We can be a lot more effective if we give them allocations for a day, several days a week at a time,” Aljoe said. “Then we’re more efficient, not only with our land resources, but also managing those allocations further into the year.”
To dive deeper into Aljoe’s presentation, visit bit.ly/40KiyHl. To learn more about Angus University webinars and other educational resources, visit www.angus.org/university.
– Written by Briley Richard, Angus Communications