# What is stocking rate in agriculture

Stocking rate, defined as, the number of animals allotted to an area for a given length of time is one of the most important grazing management tools a rancher or land manager can manipulate, regardless of the grazing system, vegetation type or kind and class of livestock.

Stocking rate is the number of animal units per acre for a specified amount of time. Several years of stocking rate, animal performance, and precipitation records can be used to identify levels of stocking beyond which undesirable plant or animal responses begin to occur.

## What is the stocking rate of livestock?

The stocking rate is defined as the number of animals grazing on a given amount of land for a specified time, and is therefore the basic relationship between livestock and forage resource ( Gerrish, 2006 ).

## What is stocking rate and why is it important?

Stocking rate is the key element to successful livestock production. The use of improper stocking rates can reduce both the vigor of desirable forage species and animal performance. This results in decreased profitability and sustainability of the production system.

## What is the relationship between stocking rate and forage resources?

The stocking rate is defined as the number of animals grazing on a given amount of land for a specified time, and is therefore the basic relationship between livestock and forage resource (Gerrish, 2006). José C.B. Dubeux Jr., Lynn E. Sollenberger, in Management Strategies for Sustainable Cattle Production in Southern Pastures, 2020

## What are the stocking rate guidelines for rural small holdings?

The Stocking rate guidelines for rural small holdings publication provides information and guidelines to help planners, developers, local authorities and land owners determine the base stocking rates for rural small holdings on the Swan Coastal Plain and Darling Scarp and immediate surrounds.

## What do you mean by stocking rate?

The stocking rate is defined as the number of animals grazing on a given amount of land for a specified time, and is therefore the basic relationship between livestock and forage resource (Gerrish, 2006).

## How are stocking rates calculated?

The formula for stocking rate is (Forage Yield (lb/acre) x (Utilization Rate (%)/100)) / AUM. Via the examples created in this article, the stocking rate example is (1,600 lb/acre x (50%)/100) / 800 lb = 1.0 AUM/acre.

## What is the importance of stocking rate?

Although timing, intensity and frequency of grazing are important, stocking rate is the most important grazing management decision. Because stocking rate affects animal productivity, net profits, and the renewable range resource, it should be tailored to each pasture and ranch.

## What is stocking rate in cattle?

Stocking rate is defined as the number of animals on a given amount of land over a certain period of time. Stocking rate is generally expressed as animal units per unit of land area. Carrying capacity is the stocking rate that is sustainable over time per unit of land area.

## What is the stocking rate per hectare?

For a farmer feeding 0.5t of concentrate per cow and growing 10t of grass per hectare, the optimum stocking rate is 1.8 cows per hectare, Coffey stated. “If we ramp up grass production, we can stock the farm at higher rates. If 16t/ha of grass is grown, we can carry a stocking rate of three cows per hectare.

## What is the difference between stocking rate and grazing capacity?

Stocking rate is a measure of the stock carried (per area, per time period, per unit rainfall), while carrying capacity is the ability of the soil & pasture to provide this from below.

## What is the difference between stocking rate and stocking density?

So put in simple terms, stocking rate is just a measure of the land’s carrying capacity. Stock density is the amount of stock present on the land at any given time and is really an indicator of management technique.

## How many cows are in a hectare?

An area of 1 ha for every 3 lactating cows is recommended. For a pasture-based system, an area of grazing land with grass is required. The size of the pasture should be at least one hectare for every three lactating cows with an additional grazing area for dry cows and heifers.

## How many acres do you need per cow?

2. You need a minimum of 1ha (2.5 acres) of grazing land for two mature cattle.

## How do you calculate forage per acre?

Once you have the average height in inches of the forage in your pasture, multiply it by 200. This is an average estimate of pounds of dry matter per acre per inch of forage height. For example, if your grass is 10 inches tall, multiply 10 x 200 to get 2000 lbs/acre of dry matter.

## How do you calculate cow days per acre?

The common practice with rotational grazing is to measure the ‘average cow-days per acre. ‘ If, for instance, the average cow days per acre is 50 cow days per acre in your land, it means you can graze one cow on one acre for 80 days, or you can graze 80 cows on one acre for 1 day.

## How many sheep can graze per hectare?

6 sheep/ha for the grazing season). However, 50 % of the 1 AU/ha should be sheep and 50 % should be cattle. Therefore, graze no more than 3 sheep/ha of veld.

## How do you calculate animal units?

“Animal unit” means a unit of measurement for any animal feeding operation calculated as follows: Brood cows and slaughter and feeder cattle multiplied by 1.0. Milking dairy cows multiplied by 1.4. Young dairy stock multiplied by 0.6. Swine weighing over 55 pounds multiplied by 0.4.

## How does stocking rate affect soil?

Stocking rate exerts a major effect on the root system, especially in overgrazing conditions. Overgrazing leads to a depleted root system, reducing nutrient uptake as a result.

## How is grazing system correlated with stocking rate?

The output of particular grazing systems is strongly correlated with the stocking rate sustained during the grazing season. As a result of the well-understood changes in the rate of growth of grass as the season progresses it is usual to find that the area devoted to grazing expands during this period. This usually happens as a result of the progressive introduction of silage or hay aftermath areas into the grazing block. However, it is normal to find that the stocking rates possible in the early part of the grazing season are the highest. On intensively managed grassland it would be normal to find dairy cows allocated about 0.2–0.25 ha per head at this time. Ewes with lambs would normally start the grazing season at about 18–24 ewes with lambs/ha. However, if spring grass growth is poor for any reason, it is normal to allocate increased grazing to ewes with lambs at the expense of the conservation area in the expectation that a hay or silage cut may become available later in the season when grass growth improves. With young cattle or dairy replacements at grass, it is normal to express the stocking rate in terms of the liveweight of animals per hectare since individual weights can vary so much. On well-fertilised grassland, about 2.5 t of liveweight/ha would be a good target in the early season falling subsequently to 1–2 t/ha later in the season.

## How are phase II fish stocks similar to phase I?

Stocking rates for phase II fish are similar to phase I operations from the sense of matching stocking rates with the intended purpose of the final product . If the purpose for stocking is population enhancement at harvest, then stocking rates are quite dense and the fish size at harvest is smaller. If however, the harvest is intended for food-fish grow out then the stocking rates are considerably less. In general terms, for every hectare of a phase II operation a producer can expect to supply three hectares of a phase III operation.

## Why is litter cover important for cattle?

Litter cover on the soil surface also helps to reduce hoof pressure and soil compaction. It is important to differentiate between high stocking rate and overgrazing.

## Why is milk yield lower in organic cows?

Milk yield per cow is often lower because of a lower feed intake as a result of the restrictions on what feed can be used. It has been hypothesized that the restriction in feed intake may result in an increased risk of metabolic disorders and poor fertility, since often the same high-merit genotypes for milk production are used in conventional and organic production. However, a number of studies have not been able to demonstrate this. The overall picture is that there are no well-documented differences in reproduction and health problems (as related to mastitis, milk fever, ketosis or lameness) for dairy cattle.

## How much land do you need for a horse farm?

It will depend on how the horses and the land are managed, time of year, environmental conditions, etc. A minimum of 1–2 acres (0.4–0.8 ha) per horse is often recommended ( Singer et al., 2002 ), but a farm manager may need more land to grow a productive stand of forage.

## Does overgrazing increase nutrient loss?

Overgrazing leads to a depleted root system, reducing nutrient uptake as a result. Therefore, overgrazing will not only increase nutrient losses by shifting the balance toward excreta return, but it will also reduce the plant’s ability to take up nutrients because of a weakened root system. View chapter Purchase book.

## What is the importance of stocking rate in livestock?

The use of improper stocking rates can reduce both the vigor of desirable forage species and animal performance. This results in decreased profitability and sustainability of the production system.

## What is stocking rate?

Stocking rate is defined as the number of animals on a given amount of land over a certain period of time. Stocking rate is generally expressed as animal units per unit of land area.

## What percentage of rangeland forage is eaten by livestock?

Of the 50% of rangeland forage (grasses or forbs) that is assumed to be removed, the assumption is also made that one-half (25% of the total) is actually consumed by livestock and the other one-half (25% of the total) is trampled, laid on, consumed by insects or other animals, or disappears because of decomposition.

## What are introduced forages?

Introduced forages are generally non-native species that have been selected for rapid growth and grazing tolerance. Introduced forage grasses common to Oklahoma include bermudagrass, tall fescue, Old World bluestem, weeping lovegrass, various cereal grains, and ryegrass. Oklahoma producers also use several introduced legumes, including alfalfa, hairy vetch, and numerous clover species (red, white, arrowleaf, rose, berseem). Most introduced forages will tolerate a heavier degree of grazing pressure than rangeland forages because of their rapid regrowth capabilities. Although many introduced forages are tolerant of close grazing, not all the forage produced can be removed. Some residue must be left for the plant to carry out basic metabolic functions.

## Why is stocking rate not total production?

End-of-season standing crop is not total production because much of the production has been lost to decomposition and insects.

## Why is it important to keep livestock stocking rate records?

Forage production and stocking rate records are critical in making timely management decisions. No other single management practice affects profitability of livestock more than stocking rate.

## Why is forage production information from long-term record keeping necessary?

For fine tuning of stocking rates on specific ranches; however, forage production information from long-term record keeping will be necessary because long-term data takes into account fluctuations in precipitation. Moisture is generally the most limiting factor relative to forage production. Table 3.

## How does stocking rate affect pasture?

Your stocking rate can affect several aspects your pastures including forage productivity, soil compaction, animal performance, weed pressure, and others.

## What is stocking density?

Stocking density is the number of animals (or liveweight) on a part of the pasture for a certain portion of time. The key terms to remember are area and time. We must look at stocking density as animal concentration and a tool used to accomplish our goals of intensive grazing management.

## What is the carrying capacity of a forage?

The two terms are not the same. Carrying capacity is the number of animals that a forage resource can support in a growing season.

## Why is rotational grazing important?

Rotational grazing is also beneficial for smaller blocks of land and helps producers have more control of how intensely and frequently their pastures are grazed through the growing season.

## How to use the Rangeland Carrying Capacity App

The number of animals, per area, for a certain period of time is known as stocking rate. This is one of the most critical decisions managers make because of it’s large impact on plant communities and livestock weight gain.

## Demand Cannot Exceed Supply

Regardless of grazing strategy (rotation, continuous, etc), demand for forage by grazing animals cannot exceed supply. Supply can be challenging to calculate in Colorado because it changes year to year.

## What is the difference between carrying capacity and stocking rate?

Carrying capacity is a measure of grass or forage available. Stocking rate is how many animal units (AUs) of livestock are grazing or using the land in a certain period. Stocking rate is a management decision of how many cattle to put on the pasture.

## What is a stock day?

Stock Days / Acre (SDA) or an Animal Day / Acre (ADA) is a measure of grass or forage available. This is your carrying capacity. A Stock Day is the same as an Animal Day or one cow-day. One Animal Unit Day is how much one 1000 lb steer will eat in one day at 3% body weight.

## What does ADs mean in a pasture?

ADs / AUs = Graze Period (how long you can graze in that pasture) If you’re practicing management intensive grazing, and moving multiple times a week, PastureMap ‘s stocking calculator does the grazing math for you on each pasture. But for anyone who’s trying to do it without a stocking calculator, knowing your AUs makes the mental math quicker.

## What is grazing management?

Grazing management is a function of grass, cows, and time. Whether you’re rotational grazing, trying out adaptive grazing, or into management intensive grazing, the basic grazing math is very similar. Carrying capacity is how many animals your pasture can support in a period of time. Carrying capacity is a measure of grass or forage available.

## Do producers have to think about stocking rate?

Many producers have been running a set stocking rate for years and never think about their stocking rate or carrying capacity. But when you start doing adaptive grazing or planning on a grazing chart for the first time, the grazing math can quickly feel complicated.

## What is stocking rate?

Stocking rate is defined as the concentration of grazing livestock on a given amount of land over a season, year or period of time. Generally, stocking rate is expressed as “animal units” for a given amount of land. This is to allow stocking rates to universally cover all livestock types since an animal unit is equivalent to 1000 pounds …

## How much forage is used in a pasture?

Most pastures contain a great deal of forage that is never consumed and eventually decays. Traditional continuous grazing systems may use only 30 to 40% of the available forage. The rest of the forage is either trampled, soiled, or of little nutritional value because it becomes overly mature.

## What does overgrazing and overgrazing do to cattle?

Overstocking and overgrazing leads to a reduction in palatable plant species and an increase in less desirable plants.

## What factors affect the yield of a grazing stand?

Factors such as previous grazing management, forage species, age of stand, soil type, texture, fertility level and moisture conditions all impact forage yield and consequently stocking rate. Livestock need forage year-round, but providing an adequate supply of forage for grazing 12 months out of the year can be challenging.

## How many acres of pasture per animal unit?

Though stocking rate depends on the intensity of grazing management, most pastures would be approximately 2 acres per animal unit. This would provide a forage allowance of …

## What is the most important thing to know about grazing?

It is critical in making timely management decisions that affect profits in beef cattle production. The optimum number of animals on a pasture makes efficient use of the forage and still leaves enough forage behind to allow a quick and complete recovery. Therefore, producers must understand how to determine the correct stocking rate for their pastures.

## What does overuse mean for livestock?

Overuse also means that livestock must graze for longer periods to meet their needs. Over time, heavy stocking causes the more palatable and productive forage species to disappear. These desirable forages are replaced by less productive, less palatable plants.

## What is stocking rate?

Stocking rates refer to the number of stock, e.g. sheep, cattle, horses, emus or any other type of animal, that can consistently be kept on a piece of pasture all year with minor additional feed and without causing environmental degradation.

## How to determine stocking rate?

The Stocking rate guidelines for rural small holdings publication aims to: 1 provide a method and information for determining the base stocking rate most suited to particular soil-landscapes in ‘rural residential’ areas 2 encourage planners, developers and land management assessors to consider stocking rates during the planning process 3 provide information to local authorities and community members to enable informed decisions on stocking rates to be made.

## Forage Production Considerations

• Rainfall and Forage Production
For most of Texas, rainfall is the most important determinant of forage production. If rainfall is equal across various sites, then the soils and forage species combinations of a site are the most important factors in a site’s forage production potential. Resource managers tend to look at aver…

## Livestock Considerations

• Not Every Cow is An Animal Unit
Resource management professionals are sometimes asked to recommend a stocking rate for a particular area or particular kind of grazing livestock. These recommendations are typically based on one cow or animal unit per “x” acres. However, not every cow is an animal unit. In fact, an ani…
• Setting Stocking Rates for Different Kinds of Livestock
When determining stocking rates for sheep and goats, range managers usually use the rule of thumb that five sheep or six goats equal one animal unit, implying that this number of sheep or goats consumes the same amount of forage as a 1,000-pound cow and her calf consuming fora…

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## Balancing Forage Supply and Demand

• Flexible Stocking Rates
Many successful ranchers maintain flexibility in stocking rates. Flexibility is essential because rainfall is unevenly distributed both within and across years. In fact, records indicate that in one of every two years less than average rainfall will be received. Stocking based on average rainfall an…
• Stocking Rate and Animal Performance
Heavy stocking rates are detrimental to both land resources and livestock performance. Over time, heavy stocking causes the more palatable and productive forage species to disappear. These desirable forages are replaced by less productive, less palatable plants that capture less r…

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## Demand Cannot Exceed Supply

Regardless of grazing strategy (rotation, continuous, etc), demand for forage by grazing animals cannot exceed supply. Supply can be challenging to calculate in Colorado because it changes year to year. For example, in one study, the same pasture produced around 200 lbs/ acre in 2002, 1300 lbs/ acre in 2003, and ~700 i…

See more on rangemanagement.extension.colostate.edu

## Harvest Efficiency Rate vs. Utilization

• Key Points on Utilization and Harvest Efficiency
1. Historically, range managers suggested total ‘use’ be set at 50% of total forage, or “take half, leave half,” based on early studies where grass recovery and resilience declined drastically beyond 50% use or forage removal (Crider, 1955). 2. The proportion of current year’s forage production t…

## Other Tools & Calculators

• Use the the calculator, Matching Cow Size to Available Forage, by CSU Agriculture and Business Management Economists, Jesse Russel, Jeffrey E. Tranel, R. Brent Young and Norman Dalsted, to integrat…

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