How to Size Paddocks for Intensive Grazing

Dave Scott and his wife own and operate Montana Highland Lamb (Home Grown & Happy) in Whitehall Montana. Dave is also a livestock specialist at ATTRA's National Center for Appropriate Technology in Butte, Montana. Recently he created a series of videos to help folks with the ins and outs of management intensive grazing, using his own operation as a demonstration. Though he talks about is sheep, the principles he demonstrates are the same regardless of what you're raising. Dave manages an average of 200 ewes and 33o lambs on 30 irrigated acres. They graze from May first through September 1, and then he rests his pastures by sending them to a nearby ranch to graze down the leafy spurge there. (Dave notes that his sheep have been so good at reducing the leafy spurge that they may be grazing themselves out of a job!) When they return home, the pastures have rested enough that the sheep can graze again from October 15 through January 15. As he describes in this video, Dave has three goals for his management. Daily goal: Let the grass fully recover, Seasonal goal: Control parasites and manage for good gains with a target weaning weight gain of .7 and .8 pounds per day Ongoing goal: Sustainability. The farm hasn't always included this idea in its goals for the 25 of the last 30 years. For the last 5 years, Dave has been working on sustainable practices that can reduce the need for fertilization and irrigation. In everything he does, he is looking for a way to c

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3 thoughts on “How to Size Paddocks for Intensive Grazing

  1. Hi Dave and Jenna,

    The reason for the “50” is a little more involved than that. The “50” is a conversion factor for that particular size of hoop in order to calculate pounds per acre. That hoop he is using appears to be a 1.92sq.ft. hoop (yes I know its a round hoop but the area is the same 🙂 ). Anyway different size hoops have differing conversion factors;
    *e.g. weight of forage within a.96sq.ft. hoop x 100 conversion factor (cf) to get lbs./acre….other size hoops and CFs are listed here.
    1.92 sq. ft. – 50 cf (as seen in the video)
    4.8 sq. ft. – 20 cf
    9.6 sq. ft. – 10 cf

    Naturally the size (sq.ft.) is directly related to length of material which then becomes the circumference once assembled.

    Hope this helps

    1. Hi, Jenna.
      That is a formula that NRCS uses with the particular size of hoop that I use in order to calculate the pounds of dry matter per acre. I got the hoop size and formula from NRCS a number of years ago. Other hoops have different conversion formulas to use with them. I have seen different sizes and shapes.
      One thing to note is the formula calls for % dry matter of the grass, not moisture. It is easy to get the two mixed up.
      Hope that this helps.
      Dave

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