Carrying capacity, also known as grazing capacity, is the amount of forage available for grazing animals in a specific pasture or field. Calculating the correct carrying capacity will help you determine a proper stocking rate that maintains productivity of both your animals and forage while encouraging the sustained health of the grassland resources.
Stocking rate is the number of animals on a pasture for a specified time period and is usually expressed in Animal Unit Months (AUMs) per unit area.
One way to determine carrying capacity is to obtain past stocking rates and grazing management information and assess the condition of the pasture. But what if the historical stocking rate data is not available or you are unsure of its accuracy and reliability?
Carrying capacity can be calculated using several different techniques. All of them depend on some trial and error as they are monitored and adjusted over time. When calculating carrying capacity, it boils down to three questions:
How much forage is available?
How much of that forage can be used by grazing animals?
How many animals can graze on that piece of land and for how long?
The BCRC Carrying Capacity Calculator provides a road map for answering these questions using two separate methods: 1) forage estimates based on provincial guides and 2) field-based sampling, also known as the clip and weigh method. Each method contains four steps. Continue reading →
Grazing is an essential part of raising cattle on the Canadian landscape. Whether you have been managing cattle on grass for years or are just starting, it is important to have a plan. A grazing plan matches animal numbers to predicted forage yields to help balance supply and demand. Ideally, a grazing plan is in place before cattle are turned out. An important first step in developing a plan includes defining goals and objectives for the entire grazing operation. This webinar will cover the basics of developing a grazing plan.
Register for our upcoming webinar on February 9th and hear from two industry experts from western and eastern regions of Canada as well as a producer who will be sharing their practical perspective. The speakers will provide insight and answer your questions about developing and executing a grazing plan that meets your short- and long-term goals.
The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is made up of producer members from across Canada, appointed by each of the provincial beef organizations that allocate part of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off to research. The number of members from each province is proportional to the amount of provincial check-off allocated to research.
The following is part five in a series to introduce you to this group of innovative thinkers that set BCRC’s direction by sharing practices, strategies, or technologies that they have integrated into their own operations. Read part one, part two, part three and part four of this series.
Regardless of what Canadian region beef producers are from, creative marketing strategies can help farmers profit as much as possible when they sell their cattle.
Keeping Things Flexible
Lee Irvine – Alberta
Lee Irvine and his family raise cattle outside of Cochrane, Alberta. They purchased their new place just over a year ago and are still working on getting things transitioned from what was primarily a horse facility back to a working cattle operation. Their new place is 80 acres of pasture and they also have some lease land with Lee’s family that they run cattle on.
Lee works off the farm in the auction industry so having a production system that can accommodate his schedule is important. They choose the class of cattle that they run based on current markets and opportunities on their farm. This year they have been running grasser cattle.
This year’s Beef Cattle Research Council webinar series will cover a range of topics including backgrounding, record keeping and grazing plans, all focused on practical, science-based information for Canadian beef producers.
Register here.(This link will allow you to register for the entire webinar series.)
Forested rangelands and partially or completely forested areas are widespread in many areas of Canada. The benefits of using forested areas in grazing includes increased pasture acres, temporarily or permanently, while providing protection for livestock from the elements.
The integration of livestock into agroforestry systems has many benefits for both the livestock and the environment including fire suppression/prevention by reducing fuel load on the forest floor, shade and protection for livestock, protection from winter winds and other inclement weather patterns, provides wildlife habitat, diversification opportunities, carbon sequestration and opportunities to rest other pastures.
While forest grazing can offer many benefits to the land and the animals, some risks exist and must be managed for, such as impacts on forest regeneration, altered forest composition, water quality, compaction and erosion.