Oh no. It’s time for Math.
I think for many of us (yes, me included) it comes as a bit of a surprise that math is a vital part of every grazing enterprise. I think we get so excited about the animals and the grass and the fresh air and how beautiful it all is that we can’t help but believe that it’s all going to be great.
And then at some point it’s not great. We find out our forage and our animals are out of balance. We have too much or too little of one or the other and maybe our bank account isn’t happy either.
So…yes, it’s time for Math. But never fear. If all the formulas and charts you find in this collection of articles are a little overwhelming, I add a tool you can use that will get you to where you need to be with just a little help from some friends.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. I chose this topic because it’s been the most searched question at On Pasture lately. If you have an idea for a collection of articles, feel free to let me know.
Take it Step by Step
Krista Ehlert gently walks us through the math, including all the formulas we might need to figure out what our animals need to eat and how many we can support on our acreage.
Easier With Worksheets
Troy Bishopp made these worksheets that let you find the answer by filling in the blanks. Maybe this is just what you’re looking for!
It’s for Horses, Goats, Sheep, Pigs and More Too!
Both Krista and Troy focused on cattle because that’s what they raise. But you can do this same kind of math for any class of livestock. Just download this PDF for an explanation of Standard Animal Units (based on animal weight) and how much different animals eat on a daily/monthly basis. Then you can plug that information into Krista’s formulas, or Troy’s worksheets.
This is also a great reminder for those getting started that cows may not be the best choice for everyone. If you’re just getting started, consider smaller ruminants.
The question isn’t always, “How Many Can I Raise?” Sometimes it’s “How Much Can I Do?”
Dave Perozzi created this grazing chart for his pastured broilers that helps him track all the things he needs to do in order to grow and move his poultry. It’s an excellent reminder we need to consider our own workload when we’re building our herds or flocks.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help!
In the U.S. there is lots of FREE and very knowledgeable support for farmers paid for with tax dollars from everyone in the country who eats. So, don’t ask some Facebook person you’ve never met. Take advantage of the expertise that’s right in your backyard.
What Happens If You Don’t Do Math?
When you run out of feed, the experts I mentioned above are still there to offer you solutions like these. I share them for us overly-optimistic types who might still be wanting to avoid math.
And the Funnies
You’ve worked hard enough just thinking about doing math so I’m not making you click to another page. Here you go!
(And my Dad could never understand why I had a hard time with math! :-))