Calculating dry matter intakes for rotational grazing of cattle

Welcome to the rotational grazing system series for suckler producers. This section's focus is feed allocation.
To explore the whole series click here

A successful grazing system depends on allocating good-quality grass to make sure animals’ requirements are met.

Dry matter intakes of suckler cows peak during early and mid-lactation and then reduce until they are dried off.

Feed allocation


Allocation (% of body weight)

Early to mid-lactation cows


Late-lactation cows


Dry cows


Heifer replacements


Calves up to weaning


Weaned calves


The same principle applies to growing and finishing cattle, with 100 kg dairy beef animals requiring 3% of their body weight or 3 kg of dry matter. As the animal grows, this reduces to 2.5% of body weight after it reaches 300 kg.


Allocation (% of body weight)





Growing and finishing cattle are continuously increasing in size, therefore their intakes also increase throughout the season. They require larger or more paddocks, or some animals to be removed, by the end of the season.

It is important to have accurate weights for each type of stock. Weigh groups and calculate the average for the group. For breeding stock, weigh at least twice a year (usually at calving or bulling and then at weaning), to give a base weight. Growing and finishing cattle should be weighed more regularly so that accurate feed budgets can be allocated.