While every grazing management system is unique, there are a few similarities between systems when determining when to graze. Consider each of the following factors to avoid overgrazing:
- Design the system according to your management goals.
- Plan for unforeseen events such as drought, increased insect populations or wildfire.
- Plan the season of use according to plant life cycles and animal needs.
- Remember that spring moisture leaves plants more vulnerable and susceptible to trampling.
Determining grazing tolerance for your program is site-specific. If you are utilizing existing grassland, refer back to your inventory and review the condition of your grassland. This will help determine the current health of the grasses and whether they need rest. If you’re using converted farmland, be sure the newly planted species are established before you begin grazing.
Once you have assessed the health of the grassland, you can set a grazing level that is appropriate to your conditions. Remember to incorporate the assistance of a grazing professional or trusted mentor as your grazing plan evolves.
The Healthy Grasslands article series is provided by the South Dakota Grassland Coalition in partnership with SDSU Extension. Contributing editors: Sandy Smart (SDSU Extension Rangeland Management Specialist), Pete Bauman (SDSU Extension Range Field Specialist), and Joshua Lefers (South Dakota Grassland Coalition Board Member, 2015–2017). © South Dakota Grassland Coalition 2017. View the full document for more information.