A simple record of pasture utilization can help livestock producers plan for the future, says a South Dakota State University grazing specialist.

Producers appreciate the importance of animal production records, but pasture performance records typically get low priority, says Roger Gates.

“Nonetheless, the number of livestock that can be carried for any length of time depends entirely on the productivity and composition of the vegetation in the pasture,” he says. “Over the long term, achieving proper use of pasture vegetation is most beneficial to the resource and is also most profitable.”

Needed, he adds, is knowledge of the feed requirements of the animals and the productivity of the pasture. But estimating pasture productivity is difficult without grazing records.

Useful grazing records include pasture size, turn-in date, and number and class of livestock. An estimate of average animal weight also would be helpful.

“If you’ve kept a careful grazing history, use it to develop grazing plans for the future,” Gates advises. “If you haven’t kept pasture grazing records, resolve to begin now, while the memory of this year’s schedule is still fresh, and begin to use them for planning next year.”

This topic will be discussed in detail at the upcoming South Dakota Grazing School, Sept. 9-11 in Oacoma. For more information, call 605-688-5455.