Group Title: 2006 Florida Equine Institute Proceedings
Title: Determining the grazing capacity of your pasture
CITATION PDF VIEWER THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095021/00001
 Material Information
Title: Determining the grazing capacity of your pasture
Series Title: 2006 Florida Equine Institute Proceedings
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Warren, Lori K.
Publisher: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2006
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095021
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:

GrazingCapacity ( PDF )


Full Text





Determining the Grazing


Capacity of Your Pasture

Lori K. Warren, PhD, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida


A pasture must be stocked appropriately to maintain
its health and productivity. The amount of forage
removed by horses during grazing must be balanced
with the amount of forage available in the pasture.


Determining how much forage is
available for grazing

The average amount of forage produced on different
types of pasture is shown in Table 1. While table
values can be used to estimate the amount of forage
growing in your pastures, a more accurate technique
for determining the amount of forage available for
grazing involves taking a representative sample from
your pasture.

Equipment needed:
Hoop
Grass clippers or scissors
Hand-held spring scale that weighs in grams
(a 300-500 gm scale works best)
Small- to medium-sized paper bags

A hoop can be constructed by bolting the ends of an
8-ft long, /4" cable. This will produce a hoop with a
30- inch diameter. Hardware and home improve-
ment stores sell cable and bolt attachments for about
$5. A 500-gram scale can be purchased from forestry,
animal health or surveying companies for about $40.


Procedure:
Step 1: Pre-weigh empty bags and record the weight.
Step 2: Select a sight to clip. Select a site where the
soil, slope and grasses are representative of the
pasture as a whole.
Step 3: Toss hoop and clip forage. Randomly toss
the hoop and let it land flat on the ground. Clip the
plants lying within the hoop down to ground level.
Discard all litter, roots, weeds and soil (everything
but actual pasture grasses).
Step 4: Put clippings into a pre-weighedpaper bag.
Step 5: Let clippings air dry in the bag. Drying may
take 2 to 4 days. The clippings should look and feel
like hay when they are dry.
Step 6: Weigh the bag using the gram scale.
Subtract the weight of the bag from the weight of the
clippings + bag.
Step 7: Average weights obtained from each hoop.
To obtain a representative sample, plants should be
clipped, dried and weighed from several different
locations within your pasture. Average the weights
(in grams) obtained from each hoop.
Step 8: Calculate the total amount of forage
growing per acre. Multiply the average hoop weight
by 20 to convert the grams of forage in an 8-ft
circumference circle to pounds per acre. This
measurement is the total pounds of forage per one
acre of pasture.
Step 9: Multiply total pounds of forage per acre
times the number of acres in your pasture.
Step 10: Calculate the forage available for grazing.
Some of the forage in a pasture will be lost to
trampling. And some of the forage needs to be left
behind to sustain the plant. So the total amount of
forage growing in your pasture will have to be
adjusted to account for these losses. To determine the
amount of forage available for grazing, multiply the
total amount of forage by 0.35.







Determining how much forage is
grazed by horses

As a rule of thumb, a horse will eat, trample or
damage approximately 3% of its body weight per day
in pasture forage. Thus, the average 1000-lb horse
would use 30 lbs of forage per day (1000 x 0.03= 30).
The amount of forage consumed per hour can also be
estimated. Horses turned out to pasture fulltime do
not graze the entire 24-hr period. Instead, horses will
only spend 9 to 14 hours a day grazing. Therefore, an
average 1000-lb horse will likely consume 2.5 to 3.5
lbs forage (air-dry weight) per hour (30 lbs + 9 hrs =
3.5 lbs/hr and 30 + 14 hrs = 2.5 lbs/hr).

Determining your pasture's grazing
capacity or length of grazing time

Once you know how much forage is available for
grazing, you can calculate how many horses your
pasture can support (grazing capacity) or how long
your horses may be able to stay on the pasture for
grazing.

Number of horses the pasture can support =


Amount (Ibs) of forage
available for grazing


Length of time (days)
horses will graze


30 Ibs forage per horse

OR

Length of time horses can graze (days) =

Amount (Ibs) of forage available for grazing


30 Ibs forage X
per horse


Number of 1
horses J


To extend your grazing season (ie, add more days),
you may choose to graze for a limited number of
hours per day. To calculate grazing on an hourly
basis, simply convert days to hours and use the
estimated forage consumption per hour (ie, 2.5 to 3.5
lbs forage/hour/horse) in place of forage per day.


Pasture Condition
Season
Poor Fair Good
Spring & early
Spring & early <2.0 2.0 4.0 4.0 6.0
Summer
Late Summer
Sat < 0.5 0.5 1.0 1.0 2.0
& Fall


Example Calculations
1. Determining Grazing Capacity
Known:
Size of acreage = 10 acres
Forage available for grazing = 1000 Ibs/acre
Length of grazing time = 90 days
How many horses can this pasture support?
(10 acres x 1100 Ibs/acre) + (90 days)
30 Ibs forage/horse
= 3 horses can graze for 90 days

2. Determining Length of Grazing Time
Known:
Size of acreage = 10 acres
Forage available for grazing = 750 Ibs/acre
Number of horses = 5
How long can these horses graze this pasture?
(10 acres x 750 Ibs/acre)
(30 Ibs forage/horse x 5 horses)
= 50 days of grazing

Limiting pasture turnout time can easily
extend the number of grazing days.
If each horse eats 3 Ibs forage/hour of
grazing, and turnout is limited to 6 hrs/day,
these 5 horses could graze for 83 days:
(10 acres x 750 Ibs/acre)
= 83 days
(5 horses x 3 Ibs/hr x 3 hrs)
If turnout is further limited to 3 hrs/day, these 5
horses could graze for 166 days.


-X UNIVERSITY OF
T FLORIDA

IFAS




University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs