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Planned Grazing Systems

Photo of cows grazing in a fieldPlanned grazing systems use forage plantings and grazing rotations to maximize production and reduce sediment and nutrient runoff. Remember to consider food, water, and herd size.

How it helps...

  • Improves vegetative cover, reducing erosion and improving water quality
  • Increases harvest efficiency and helps ensure adequate forage throughout the grazing season
  • Increases forage quality and production which helps increase feed efficiency and can improve profits
  • Rotating also evenly distributes manure nutrient resources


  • Profits
  • Soil Erosion
  • Water Quality
  • Wildlife


  • Consider the number of livestock and the forage needed. Will existing pasture meet livestock needs, or will seeding and/or fertilization be needed? Plan for management alternatives for times of low forage production.
  • Is there adequate, good quality water distributed throughout the pasture?
  • Soil erosion control practices may be needed on stream banks or in areas of concentrated runoff before the grazing system can be put in place.
  • Move livestock on and off paddocks according to forage availability, not according to the calendar. Plan rest periods so paddocks have adequate time to recover during the growing season
  • Apply lime and fertilizer as indicated by soil tests.
  • Haying may be necessary during heavy growth periods.
  • Repair fencing as needed. Remove or drain pasture watering systems during winter.
  • Revise the rotation schedule and the size and number of paddocks as herd size and other factors change.