Feed budget and rotation plan for cattle

Welcome to the rotational grazing system series for suckler producers. In this section we offer guidance on calculating a feed budget.
To explore the whole series click here

Why calculate a feed budget?

Feed budgeting is essential to see if there is likely to be enough grass to meet stock requirements over a long period.

How it works

You will need to calculate how much grass the group of stock need and how much grass will grow on the area allocated to them for grazing.

Remember: you need to account for animal growth, the need to increase body condition score or the changing weight of pregnant stock leading to increased body weight and greater feed requirements.

Information required:

  • Livestock feed requirements – livestock weight, allocation and stock numbers
  • Grazing area for group (ha)
  • Average pasture cover on grazing area to start and estimated daily growth rate
  • Anticipated grazing days
  • Target cover at end of grazing period

Grazing efficiently involves providing enough grass to meet the livestock feed requirements without grazing below the post-graze target or offering too much, which will lead to reduced grass quality and utilisation.

The key is to plan ahead and estimate how long the stock will need to be in each field before they are moved on to the next, taking into account grass growth rates.