Pasture Rotation for Healthy Sustainability

The Ins and Outs of Pasture Rotation for Healthy Sustainability

Pasture Rotation for Healthy Sustainability: If you are not raising your animals on the pasture, then you are really missing out.

Unfortunately, for most people, raising animals involves putting them in a feedlot setting where they live all year. That kind of set-up requires lots of shovels of manure, a lot of hoofing and a lot of extra work.

We wanted to raise our animals (sheep, pigs, and chickens) in a healthier, more sustainable way, yet we knew that we did not have thousands of acres of land to freely graze on. We only have 22 acres of land, so we have to be smart in the way we manage our space.

Pastry rotations can be done by anyone who is willing to get a little creative, from small-scale backyard homeowners to farmers with hundreds of acres.

Here are some tips on how to get started.

What is grazing rotation?

Grazing rotation, also known as rotational grazing, is simply the practice of moving livestock to new sections of pasture in a few days or weeks. In doing so, you can maintain the feed that is healthy, fertile and nutritious.

Typically, a pasture rotation scheme would include a large fencedid-in area with multiple internal parcels. These are usually divided into permanent or temporary fences so that you can easily move your animals from one paddock to another.

Benefits of pasture rotation

Pasture Rotation for Healthy Sustainability
Pasture Rotation for Healthy Sustainability

1. Financial Benefits

One of the best reasons to practice good rotational grazing is to reduce your grazing expenses. On an average farm, your feed cost can be up to one dollar per day.

If you plan carefully and manage the pasture properly, you can cut it in half (or possibly more). By giving the plants time to bounce back, you will be able to feed less supplements like hay and rely more on natural pastures to work for you.

2. Environmental Impact

Unfortunately, grasses, clover, and other fodder plants can be easily stressed by grazing. It is not just the grazing habits of animals that increase this stress, but also their foot traffic and manure.

When you allow animals to graze continuously, they will first eat desirable bait (which varies depending on the animal and its preferred foods). They will leave parts of the pasture to be abandoned while others remain untouched. They will continue to turn to these more tasty sections to eat without giving them time to bounce back.

As you might expect, this can cause desirable plants to die and weeds. This means more work has to be done to cultivate and control the land. The farmer often has to use more pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals as a result.

Therefore, good pasture rotation can help reduce your environmental impact.

3. Animal welfare

Rotational grazing is better for animal health. When you raise animals in confinement or the popular “feedlot” setting, the chances of disease and parasitic infections are high.

Sheep, in particular, are vulnerable to parasitic infections as a result of overgrowth. This is due to part of their unique anatomy (it is rare to find any sheep, even raised under the most ancient conditions, with zero parasitic loads) and their grazing habits (they land Comes very close to).

By giving grazing time to rest between fodder cycles, you provide time for parasites to die and reduce the risk of disease. It also gives the pasture time to bounce back, increasing the nutritional value of the plot.

Rotational grazing scheme

Pasture Rotation for Healthy Sustainability

1. Figure out your animal units

Your first step in pasture rotation should be to find out the forage requirements of your animals. It is difficult to create a fixed rotational grazing plan that will work well for all farms, because you have to take into account the breed of the animal, the size of the herd and the type of land. Other factors to consider include forage type and climate.

However, in general, you can plan your grazing plan by designating each animal as an animal unit. As a general rule of thumb, according to the Penn State Extension:

  • One 1000lbs dairy cow (non-pregnant, non-lactating) = 1.0 animal unit
  • One 2000lbs mature beef bull = 1.7 animal unit
  • One 132lbs brood ewe = 0.17 animal unit
  • One 300lbs mature ram = 0.42 animal unit

… And so on.

Then, you can find out how many animals according to the requirements of your total animal unit.

2. Decide how many acres are needed

Once you know how and how many animals are going to graze on the land, you can find out their feed requirements and how many acres you need to provide to meet those feed requirements.

There are a lot of variations here, as your grazing requirements will depend on overall pasture development. This is, of course, dependent on various factors, including:

  • Soil characteristics
  • Fertilization
  • Climate
  • Plant species
  • … and other factors

You will need to consider the species of animal you are going to graze as well as the type of plant you want to grow to feed that animal. Keep in mind that some plant types are best suited for different types of animals and what feeds a hen best is not what feeds a sheep the best.

Take some time to research the feed requirements of each species – you may find the following articles helpful in your search.

For feed requirements:

3. How big will your paddles be?

Once you get the above information, you can determine the size of your paddock. This will depend on the herd’s animal units, how much bait you have, and how long you want to graze.

Paddocks are small internal grazing areas that exist within a large fenced-in area. Often, people use portable fences to complete the pasture division process.

In general, you can estimate several hundred pounds of grazing for each inch of height. Again, you can find more detailed information about calculating paddock sizes by visiting the Penn State Extension website, but the overall calculation is simple. You will multiply the suggested one acre per acre by the number of animal units in the herd.

4. How many paddles do you need?

The number of pads you will need will depend on how long you want to graze your animals in a particular paddock as well as how much time you want to give to the pasture. Without proper resting time, you are at risk of parasitizing forest plants along with posing a risk to parasites.

The length of time you place your animals in a given paddock will vary depending on the time of year and where you live (as well as what kind of animals you are grazing).

A swarm of pigs may be kept in the paddock for just one or two days during the summer heat, while a sheep herd may be able to live there twice a year in moist spring conditions. .

Also, keep in mind that the growth rate of your pasture is affected by soil fertility, so the rest of your period may also vary from year to year. Be flexible and revisit this decision!

5. Figure out of fencing and water

You also have to find out fencing. Fencing will be needed to control the animals, not only to prevent them from moving out of the prime area, but also to keep the paddocks separate.

The type of animal will decide which type of fence is best for you. For example, if you use a portable electric fence (we use an 8-joule charger) then the sheep need an extremely high voltage. You can make your internal fence permanent or portable depending on your grazing goals and landscape.

Don’t forget to factor in water. You will need access to water in each pasture. The average dairy cow needs 20-gallons of water a day, while a sheep will need at least two.

6. Adjust as needed

Chances are, you won’t get everything right during the first round. You have to adjust your rotational grazing plan due to unforeseen challenges and circumstances. Of course, your bait will change regularly, too, with changes in fertility, quality, and bait type depending on where you place your animals.

Special consideration for …

The sheep

Pasture Rotation for Healthy Sustainability

Sheep need to be moved very frequently in rotating pastures. How often you shake your sheep will depend on your stocking density as well as the breed of sheep you raise – some, such as Icelandic, less desirable bait rather than just high quality grasses and even That will target the brush.

As a result, you may be able to keep them in the paddock for a while. Sheep can typically be stocked fairly heavily in a given paddock, but they must be moved frequently.

They have a high parasitic vulnerability and will need to be moved to prevent the parasite load from getting higher. As a general rule of thumb, move your sheep often, as you will be much more productive and your flock will also be healthier.


Pasture Rotation for Healthy Sustainability

With goats, it is important to remember that they will eat all kinds of plants, including weeds, grass, leaves, bushes, flowers, and more. You may be able to keep them on less desirable paddocks for a longer period of time.

As with sheep, however, it is important to take into account the parasitic load. Insects can recapture within 2-3 weeks when the goats eat, where they have already hunted.

The pig

If you are going to raise pigs on the pasture, the key to being successful is in taking them as far away as possible. If they are left on it for too long a day, pigs may cut off a portion of the ground. Transfer them frequently so that weeds and brushes do not run out (or worse – so that your bait becomes a lot of mud).

Another thing to keep in mind with pigs is that when they talk of fences, they remain very destructive and contained. They are quite curious!

Therefore, you have to make sure that your fences are for sniffing (especially outdoor bait fences). When raising pigs on pasture, you may need to supplement them with grains or other foods, as grass is not necessarily a complete food source for pigs. There are also some breeds like Kunekuns, which are better at this than others, though.


Even chickens can be raised on grazing! You can use a movable coop or chicken tractor to accomplish this goal. In fact, it is smart to move chickens regularly, as their high-nitrogen poop can easily burn the soil.

You can graze them a little more often than most herbicides, but try not to let the pasture fall below 2 inches.

The cows

Although cows are not the only animals that produce milk, you need to give a thought to grazing dairy cows or any other lactating animal. Milk producers need consistent fodder quality, so you may need to graze them for a short period on any given paddock.

Another tip is when cattle graze, supplemented with protein when the weather is dry. You can use supplementary tubs that move with the cattle as they graze. This can encourage them to graze places they might not otherwise do and help spread their influence over a larger area.

How often to rotate the past

If you fail to use your pastures properly, you are going to grow some of the most delicious species and the pasture will spoil.

However, there is no single answer to how often you should rotate your pastures. You should use the information provided earlier in the article to determine how often to move around. You will need to change these “rules” and expectations often based on climatic conditions.

For example, in the middle of April the remaining period may be just 12–15 days. The rest period can be up to 40 days when you go to graze in late August as there is less rain and hot weather. When you need to move, don’t stick it with the dog’s idea. Instead, be flexible and know when to move to listen to your land.

As a general rule of thumb, the grass must be at least 6 inches tall before grazing. If you allow livestock more than before, the plants will likely die because their roots are immature.

One more tip? Once your animals have eaten half the plant or grass in a pasture, it is time to move. Do not let them destroy the pasture completely.

Then, trust your plants to tell you that it is time to move – not date.

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