South Dakota Grassland Coalition

By Dan Rasmussen

May 2024


Part 1 of the Creating Healthy Pastures series, covered the value of a rotational grazing plan in improving pasture health. A multi-pasture rotation allows the grasses and forbs to adequately recover before being grazed again.

Part 2 of the Creating Healthy Pastures series, covered the differences in managing a native pasture rotation and a tame grass rotation, and how important recovery time is to creating healthy pastures.

Part 3 covers overcoming personal obstacles that are keeping you from achieving your ranch goals.

It is important to note that ranch goals are an important part of grazing planning. Holistic Resource Management training is helpful in refining your goals.


Once you have refined your goals it is helpful to make a list of the obstacles keeping you from achieving these goals. Examples of common obstacles are water quantity, moving water to your new smaller internal pastures, electric fence issues and paying for fencing and water development.

Water quantity can be addressed with storage. There are many current options for water storage. A storage tank fills at night when the cattle are not drinking so there is adequate water delivery during the heat of the day.

Water distribution can be addressed with a combination of PE pipe laid on top of the ground and buried.

Fencing. If working with electric fence is new to you, it would be helpful to attend an electric fence workshop or find a mentor. Once you get past the learning phase the advantages of internal 12 gauge single strand high tensile wire are many. A few examples being:

-Electric fences resist high snow loads much better than barb wire
-Dry and wet creek crossings are cheap and easy to maintain
-Lower overall maintenance
-Cost of installing is 20% or less of barb wire

Paying for Developments.

Cost share opportunities are available from numerous sources. Most are intended to help both the landowner and habitat for wildlife. Keeping ranch/farm families on the land are a priority for most of these donors.

Rotational grazing will create healthy pastures if the plants have adequate recovery time. Once you have attended a grazing school you are eligible to sign up for the Follow-up Range Consulting Program. A range consultant will visit your ranch and help you with your grazing planning. The Follow-up Program is free of charge thanks to generous donors.

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