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Mastering Pasture Management with a Grazing Stick
Ohio Ag Connection - 04/01/2024

Mastering pasture management begins with accurately estimating forage availability, a task simplified by utilizing a grazing stick. This simple yet powerful tool allows pasture managers to make informed decisions regarding grazing rotations for livestock.

What does the grazing stick do?

A grazing stick integrates information on forage height, density, species composition, and residual grazing heights to estimate available forage dry matter per grazing paddock. This enables managers to determine grazing duration and plan rotations effectively.

Where can you find a grazing stick?

Grazing sticks are often distributed at agricultural events and by various organizations, including Land Grant Universities, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and State Agricultural Departments.

Steps for using the grazing stick:

• Measure forage height using the ruler side of the grazing stick.

• Assess forage density by counting visible dots on the grid side of the stick.

• Determine estimated pounds of dry matter per acre inch based on the number of dots counted.

• Decide on the grazing and residual heights based on forage type.

• Calculate the estimated dry matter available for grazing.

• Repeat measurements multiple times for accuracy.

• Calculate the total dry matter available for the paddock.

• Estimate livestock dry matter consumption per day.

• Determine the number of grazing days for the paddock.

• Repeat the process for subsequent paddocks in the rotation.

• Allow adequate rest time for forage regrowth before returning to graze.

Using a grazing stick provides valuable insights into forage availability and facilitates optimal grazing management. While it offers estimates, repetition enhances accuracy. However, it should be used in conjunction with other factors when designing grazing systems.

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