Here’s the final article in our series on how to figure Pasture Rental Rates. If you’ve missed the first three, here they are:
All pasture is not created equal. Some has better forage and some has more fertile soils. Fences add to the value of a pasture as does other infrastructure. So, as you’re doing the math to help you figure out what a good pasture lease rate is, don’t forget to make a list of the pros and cons that may add to or subtract from the pasture’s value. Here are some examples to consider:
Forage Species and Condition
• Legumes in the pasture are better than just grass.
• Tame grasses are often better than native grasses.
• Weeds – if your cattle are educated and they eat weeds, a weedy pasture can be a bonus. Weeds are high in protein, are more digestible than grass, and often hold their nutritional value longer through the grazing season.
• Plant diseases reduce forage quality and quantity.
• Some insects can reduce the quality and yield of pasture, cause hay harvest problems or be a nuisance for your livestock.
• Weeds – if your cattle are uneducated, and they don’t eat weeds, there is less forage in you pasture. (If weeds are impacting a pasture, you might consider leasing it at a lower rate, then spending the 8 hours over 7 days training your livestock to eat them. You’ll have more forage, at a good rate, and the landowner will appreciate the improvements your livestock make in the pasture over time.)
• Fertile soils grow more, better forage and reduce outlays for fertilizer.
• Check the pH on the pasture’s soil. If the soils are acidic, plant growth will suffer and you might even have to spread lime to solve the problem.
Fences, Water, Hills and Rocks
• Good quality fences with conveniently located gates and roads make pastures more valuable.
• Water, especially if it’s present in a way that makes your rotations through the pasture easier are also a bonus.
• No fences, or fences in poor condition, will add to the labor and money you’ll need to invest to make the pasture useful to you.
• No water, intermittent water, or too much water in the form of flooding all lower the value of a pasture.
• Are their hills, rocks, or other natural parts of the pasture that will make management of your livestock more difficult? Figure that into what the pasture lease rate should be.
Last But Not Least
Consider how neighbors and their livestock and dogs might impact how you manage your livestock. The same goes for hunters, recreational users, and railroad. And as Meg Grzeskiewicz noted in her pasture leasing series the further the pasture is from you, the longer your travel, the less well that pasture may work for you.
So, do the math, adjust it with these things in mind, and you’ll have a great idea of where to start with a pasture lease rate.