It’s that time of year again! Grass Whisperer Troy Bishopp has updated the grazing charts and they’re ready for you to download.
Troy developed 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 our work lives 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 every year, Troy updates them and shares 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 9 years now. Why does he do it? As Troy says in this week’s Classic by NatGLC:
“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!”
What Can a Grazing Chart Do For You?
1) Get you through weather caused issues
Troy has successfully used his grazing chart and its holistic foundation to get through drought and too much rain.
2) Make sure you have enough forage through the grazing season – even an extended season!
Pre- grazing chart days, there were years Troy ran out of grass by July. But since he started charting his management, he’s been able to extend his grazing season into December.
3) It serves as a “break glass in case of emergency” guide
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.
4) You can create work/life balance
Troy uses the charts to fit in time with his family and friends.
“What a novel concept,” Troy says, “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.
These charts run from April 1 through March 31 and come in 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!
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, April 1 – March 31
PDF Grazing Charts, April 1 – March 31
Morning and Afternoon Moves, April 1 – March 31
Download this Grazing Planning Sheet as well. It’s a series of prompts and questions to help you as you plan your grazing for the season.
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 makes 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.
Check out the course outline and the ebook table of contents and then sign up to be notified when they’re available this spring.
And hey – let Troy know that you appreciate his efforts.
Troy does this out of the goodness of his heart and saying thank you would help him know it’s worthwhile. I can tell you from firsthand experience that graziers aren’t all that good at saying thanks, and when someone does take the time, it really makes my day. So let’s make Troy’s day!
If you’d like to learn more, Troy is also available for workshops on how to use grazing charts. You can find him at the On Pasture Speakers Bureau.