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Grazing lingo - what does it all mean

Grazing duration or grazing  The time livestock spend grazing a paddock.
Grazing intensity The combination of stocking rate and grazing period. Pasture utilisation is lifted by increasing the grazing intensity, however if the intensity is too great:
  • performance per animal will decline
  • pasture regrowth will slow
  • groundcover benchmarks (minimum 70%) can be harder to maintain, and weed invasion can increase
Rest periods The time in a rotational grazing system when the stock are not in the paddock, so the pasture can re-grow before the next grazing. Rest period is sometimes referred to as the grazing interval.
Rotational grazing Livestock are moved to a ‘new’ pasture paddock regularly, based on one of three factors
  1. Time based - livestock are moved using fixed time intervals. For example, with a four-paddock system, stock might spend two weeks in each paddock, giving a six-week rest period. The philosophy is to keep the management simple without any pasture monitoring or fodder budgeting. As this system is often the starting point for rotational grazing, the number of existing paddocks usually dictates the grazing and rest periods.
  2. Plant growth based - livestock are moved using plant growth criteria (feed on offer, pasture re-growth phase, or leaf stage). The philosophy is based on optimising pasture performance (for example: to keep the pasture in growth Phase 2).
  3. Animal intake based - animal intake criteria dictate the movement of livestock. The philosophy is based on controlling livestock intake to a desired level, by calculating the amount of feed to allocate per dry sheep equivalent (DSE) per day. This is either to ‘ration’ feed intake (e.g. in autumn, to save feed for winter), or to provide maximum pasture availability to certain livestock to optimise growth.

Rotational grazing means usually leads to bigger mob sizes in paddocks, which equates to higher stocking densities. This increases pasture utilisation by reducing the potential for livestock to selectively graze.

Set stocking (or continuous grazing) Stock are run in one paddock year round and the pasture receives no rest. 
Stocking rate is set to match paddock pasture production over the whole year, but can be increased or decreased in response to changes in forage availability.
In reality few producers set stock in the strictest sense. Most ’set stockers’ have some ability to move stock when feed runs out.
Stocking rate The number of livestock carried per hectare.
Stocking rate is usually calculated over a full year, and expressed in dry sheep equivalents (DSE) per hectare per year.
Stock density is usually calculated over a shorter time period and can be expressed as DSEs or animal class/ha/week (or similar shorter time period, such as 100 ewes/ha for 20 days).
Tactical grazing The practice of using a range of grazing methods through a single year, or series of years, to meet different animal and pasture objectives at different times.