How Much Pasture Does Your Livestock Need?

No matter what type of livestock you raise, some of your most pressing concerns are sure to include keeping your animals in their fields and keeping predators out of them. High-tensile wire and other premium fencing materials can be used in innovative ways for all types of livestock. But before you can schedule the installation of your new fencing, you’ll need to figure out how much space to give your livestock. Here’s a quick primer.

Animal Units

There are a few different ways of mathematically figuring out how many animals your land will support. One of them is determining the animal unit (AU) and animal unit month (AUM). On average, one animal unit is 1,000 pounds of animal. One AU could be equivalent to any of the following: one 1,000-pound cow, with or without an unweaned calf, one 1,000-pound horse, one 1,000-pound bison cow, with or without an unweaned calf, or five 100-pound ewes or nannies, with or without an unweaned lamb or kid. Rams and bucks, being heavier, account for slightly more of an AU percentage than ewes and nannies. And of course, since some horses and cattle weigh more than 1,000 pounds, you can adjust their AUs by adding another 0.1 AU per 100 pounds of weight.

Animal Unit Months

There are some variations among species and breeds. But in general, one AU can reliably consume between 780 pounds and 1,000 pounds of dry forage per month. The amount of forage consumed by an AU per month is called an animal unit month.

Pasture Production

Under ideal circumstances, it’s plausible for one acre of pasture to provide one AUM. Most acreage is capable of supporting no more than 0.75 AUM. Yours may be more or less, depending on the quality and production. Of course, you’ll also have to consider seasonal fluctuations in production, so adjust your figures accordingly. For help figuring out your acreage production, you can get in touch with your local cooperative extension office.

McKendrick Contracting Inc. is a team of experts in fencing, erosion control, and sediment control. They are located in Steamboat Springs, CO, but have provided custom fencing solutions to farmers and ranchers throughout the country. To request a quote, give their office a call at (970) 879-7855.