Do you want more quality grazing days?
Are you ready to make more money?
Are you dealing with weather events proactively?
Do you want to limit stress points in your operation?
Would you like to get away for a vacation this summer?
If you need help with any of these things, then check out the Free Grazing Charts that Troy Bishopp provides us every year about this time.
Troy put these grazing charts together while working with a group of farmers and graziers. They looked at examples from noted, successful graziers like Jim Gerrish and Greg Judy. They talked about their challenges, like figuring out how to rotate livestock to make the most of their forage, and what to do when drought hit during grazing season. They considered the stresses that we all face balancing work life and time for fun with their friends and family, while still making money.
The result was these grazing charts – set up for operations both large and small, and for those grazing year round and those for shorter seasons – along with instructions for considering your life and your operation holistically. And every year, Troy has updated them and shared them so that other graziers can improve their operations
Troy has been updating these grazing charts and doing show and tell presentations on this topic for 8 years now. Why does he do it? In Troy’s own words:
“Because the grazing chart works!
“I believe in using the tool as an extension of my senses and observation ability. It forces me into the immersion of “what if” scenarios and managing proactively toward tangible goals. It helps me to balance feed inventory. It reduces stress on my ecosystem and me. IT MAKES ME MONEY!”
Troy has successfully used his grazing chart and its holistic foundation to get through drought. Pre-grazing chart days, there were years he was out of grass by July, but since he started charting his management, he’s been able to extend his grazing season into December. The grazing chart has been important in emergencies, making it possible for Troy’s family to keep everything up and running when he was recovering from heart surgery. It has also given him more time with his family and friends. “What a novel concept,” Troy say, “to actually plan more grandchildren days while optimizing animal performance and creating a healthy diverse sward!“
If you’re ready to get started, here are the steps you can take:
1. Pick out the chart below that works best for you, then click to download it.
We have charts that run from April to January and from April 1 to March 31. Choose the timeframe that works for you. Next, decide if you want the Excel version (which also opens in Numbers on a Mac), or a PDF version. The Excel version is good for folks who plan to print it out at home, or use it on their computer. The PDF version is for those folks who want to print a wall or door-size chart. We worked for a couple of days to create these versions for you because people were having a hard time making this size themselves. It was harder than it looked! Print out these instructions so you’ll know where to find a printer that can do this for you and so you can translate what you want into printer speak.
Now, just pick the one that has enough paddocks to work for your operation, then click to download it. Ta Da! Not sure what you want? Download them all! They’re free! 🙂
Excel Grazing Charts, April – January
PDF Grazing Charts, April – January
Excel Grazing Charts, 12 Months
PDF Grazing Charts, 12 Months
2. Take a Look at the Grass Whisperer’s actual 2013-2014 grazing chart example.
Here are some highlights of what you can do with your grazing chart:
Troy adds events, like the organic inspection and his annual participation in the Daniel Barden Highland Mudfest (in memory of one of the Sandy Hook victims). Look for other events he added to the calendar, like his anniversary and a family vacation. Those are the things that make life worthwhile, and by including them in his grazing plan, he’s made sure that he can get away for them. Notice that he is also tracking his organic matter in each paddock so he can see how his grazing changes this over time. Last, at the bottom of the picture you can see that he planned to graze (black Xs) but fed instead. The green Xs show when he actually grazed. Tracking the difference between planned activities and what really happened can help you improve your planning as you go.
Troy also tracks rainfall and snowfall to track how much precipitation he’s getting along with the temperature, how many animals he’s feeding and the dry matter they’re consuming. Hot days are highlighted in red.
Here, Troy tracks when he moved animals to other pastures, when he spread compost and stockpiled pasture for the herd’s return. He knows how many days of rest each pasture has had before the animals return so that he can be sure forage has adequate recovery time.
For ideas about what you should consider as you’re developing your plan, download this list of things Troy thinks about, including critical decision points and weak links and bottlenecks.
3. Check out other On Pasture articles from Troy to walk you through how to use a grazing chart.
We put together a Special Collection of Troy’s instructions for how to use your new chart. See them here.
4. Got Suggestions/Questions? We’re here to help!
You may have some experience that your fellow readers could benefit from. Or you may have questions that we haven’t answered yet that are preventing you from getting started with your planned grazing. Share them below, or drop us a line. We want to do whatever we can to help you be successful.
And hey – why not let Troy know that you appreciate his efforts. He does it out of the goodness of his heart and saying thank you would help him know it’s worthwhile. He’s also available for workshops for learning to use grazing charts. You can find him at the On Pasture Speakers Bureau.