South Dakota Grassland Coalition

by Dan Rasmussen and Al Wind

July 2020

Here are four steps to create your own grazing plan:

1st Step- Write down your goals for the grazing season.

Setting goals helps give you direction. An example of a goal for a grazing plan would be: One of your pastures has lots of bare ground between plants with very little litter. The time the cattle are left in this pasture will be shortened to achieve your soil health goal. More standing forage will be left to help create a litter base. Litter protects the soil and feeds the soil biology. Goals are useful in every step of grazing planning.

2nd Step- Prepare A Simple Resource Inventory.

A simple resource inventory involves walking through your pasture and deciding how long a herd of cattle can stay in the pasture to achieve your grazing goals. A more accurate measurement can be done by clipping and weighing a forage sample or using a grazing stick. The time the cattle are in the pasture determines the amount of grass left for soil and pasture health.

3rd Step-Prepare a Grazing Chart- Spreadsheets Make it Easy.

Once the length of time is determined for the herd this info may be entered into the grazing chart (Fig.1.) In the example, see “East #9” entered in May for 8 days. This process is done for all the pastures.

4th Step- Re-evaluate often- Adjust the plan by observation of the pastures.

The grazing plan is only an estimate of when you will enter and leave pastures. As the season progresses, it will be necessary to adjust the plan based on weather conditions and whether you are meeting your original goals.

A grazing plan is one important part of the whole ranch plan. To learn more about whole ranch planning watch the SDGC website calendar for schools, workshops and pasture walks throughout the year.

Source: SDGC Newsletter

If you would like some help creating your grazing plan, you might want to consider follow-up range consulting program. This is an incredibly affordable resource to help you with your managed grazing planning. 

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