Carrying Capacity Resources

What is carrying capacity, and what does it mean for your farm?   

Carrying capacity, also known as grazing capacity, is the amount of forage available for grazing animals in a specific pasture or field. Understanding how much forage is available is a key principle of pasture management in order to balance the available forage supply with livestock demand.

The Beef Cattle Research Council has developed a new video to help producers assess and manage carrying capacity:

Carrying capacity can be calculated using a variety of techniques and is somewhat based on trial and error. It can be monitored and adjusted over time to determine the long-term average.

When calculating carrying capacity, it boils down to three questions:

BCRC carrying capacity calculator
  • 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) estimates based on provincial guides and 2) field-based sampling. Each method contains four steps.


Banner photo courtesy of Beef Farmers of Ontario