Skip Navigation

Conservation Choices: Prescribed Grazing

Prescribed Grazing

Prescribed GrazingWhat it is

Managing the harvest of vegetation with grazing and/or browsing animals.

This is often attained through a rotational or mob grazing system where pastures are divided into four or more pastures or paddocks with fencing. Cattle are moved from paddock to paddock on a prearranged schedule based on forage availability and livestock nutrition needs.

How it helps

Improves or maintains:

  • species composition and vigor of plant communities;
  • quantity and quality of forage for grazing and browsing animal health and productivity;
  • surface and subsurface water quality and quantity;
  • riparian and watershed functions;
  • quantity and quality of food and cover available for wildlife.

Prescribed grazing also helps to reduce erosion and improve profits.

Planning ahead

  • Have you developed a grazing plan that includes your goals and objectives?

Tech Notes

  • Take a resource inventory that identifies:
    • existing plant health and quantity;
    • opportunities to enhance plant conditions;
    • paddocks, acres, and the location of structural improvements such as fences, water developments, etc. using a plan map; and
    • ecological sites or forage suitability groups when available.
  • Take a forage inventory of the expected forage quality, quantity and species in each management unit.
  • Take a forage-animal balance (carrying capacity) for the grazing plan that identifies forage surpluses and deficiencies for the kind and class of grazing livestock, and browsing wildlife of concern.
  • Develop a contingency plan that adjusts the grazing prescription in case of flood, drought, insects, etc.


  • Monitor data and grazing records regularly to ensure objectives are met, or to make necessary changes.

Iowa Practice Standard

Iowa Job Sheet


Prescribed Grazing Video