Articles on forages, animals, and grazing systems
Enter your E-mail to receive the monthly Grazing News Newsletter:
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-3358
Fax: (859) 323-1952
Non-uniform grazing can reduce utilization of available forages and increase undesirable plants and weeds in pastures. Taking steps to graze paddocks more uniformly will benefit overall livestock production and forage quality.
Paddock layout and size, placement of water and mineral feeders, and management practices can greatly affect uniformity of grazing. Research has shown the shape and size of an individual paddock influences grazing. Square paddocks will be grazed more evenly than rectangular or other shaped paddocks. If possible, water should not be placed more than 800 feet from any area of the paddock to improve distribution of grazing animals and manure. Regularly moving mineral feeders may also increase uniformity of grazing and reduce severity of soil compaction in these areas while
increasing manure distribution. The time the animals will be in the paddock needs to be adjusted to account for forage availability, paddock size, and stocking density to ensure uniform grazing.
Mowing pastures and/or using a more intensive rotational grazing system where a larger number of animals are in a paddock for a shorter amount of time may also help attain this goal. In less intensive rotational or in continuous grazing systems, animals are more likely to selectively graze the more palatable forages which can increase undesirable plants. When plenty of quality forages are available, giving the animals the ability to selectively graze may have benefits of increased animal production but will decrease forage utilization. Uniform grazing is an important part of managing pastures to maximize forage quality and production.