Resources for Calculating Stocking Rate and Carrying Capacity To use the resources below, you will need to know the number and type of livestock you plan to graze, for how long, and the approximate amount of forage you have available. If you don’t know how much forage you have available, pages 4 … Stocking Rate is a function of animal density including consideration of percentage of the time the animals are on the pasture. It is typically expressed as acres per animal unit. The stocking rate affects the rangeland's overall productivity, species composition, likelihood of impacts on different soil parameters like compaction or erosion occurring, individual animal performance, and several other factors in the rangeland–livestock relationship. Stocking Rates. Thus, livestock stocking rates are the most important management decision affecting the ranching business and the rangeland resource. Animal Unit Month for class of livestock = Stocking Rate Determining the appropriate stocking rate does not have to be complicated, says Jace Stott, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension educator. From flooding to drought, producers have to deal with all kinds of weather extremes, which often makes calculating stocking rates on available pastures and forages quite variable from year to year. Stocking rate also has a major impact on animal performance and overall profitability of the livestock production system. Many livestock operations base their stocking rate on tradition, the advice of their neighbors, financial pressure, research results, or simply a best guess. Stocking rate, defined as, the number of animals allotted to an area for a given length of time is one of the most important grazing management tools a rancher or land manager can manipulate, regardless of the grazing system, vegetation type or kind and class of livestock. Using an appropriate stocking rate for your farm is the first step in managing a sustainable, forage-based livestock system. STOCKING RATE. Stocking Rates are the Key! Because livestock enterprises depend upon forage, the most critical decision you may make is the appropriate stocking rate for your land. Convert for animal type you are using with Animal Unit Equivalents: Information: • The cow herd on the allotment has an average weight of 1400 lbs. Stocking rate affects the pasture's overall productivity, species composition, likelihood of soil compaction occurring, individual animal performance, and a host of other factors in the pasture-livestock relationship. Let’s assume we’ll keep the herd out on this pasture from May 15 to August 15, three months. By Tim Miller, NRCS Range Management Specialist Lawrence, Kansas. Determining Stocking Rate . There are different ways of expressing stocking rate for a given herd of livestock but the most commonly used are: To determine our AUMs, we simply multiply our adjusted AU from above by how many months the animals will be out on pasture. Stocking rate is the number of animals per unit area of land. A general starting ratio for stocking is 0.5 (500lbs of animal grazing per acre). When I ask people what their stocking rates are for a year, I always hear “you can put one pair per eight acres.” I soon realized this statement is not accurate—there is not an identical pasture—anywhere. USDA defines one thousand pounds of live weight as one animal unit (AU). Figure 1 indicates that maximum individual animal performance occurs at light stocking rates because there is little competition for the best forage plants. For grazed forages to remain productive, grazing use must be matched to the individual pasture’s carrying capacity. Animal Density (AD) is defined as (AU)/grazed acre. An animal unit consumes 26 pounds of forage daily. Stocking rate decisions have a significant impact on short and long term sustainability of ranch resources.Stocking rate influences both livestock performance and climatically controlled forage production. Stocking Rate = Available Forage Pounds Eaten/Month Stocking Rate = 600,000 lbs/ac 800 lbs/month Stocking Rate = 750 animals/month 5. Stocking rate is often used interchangeably with carrying capacity, which is also incorrect.