Improved Grazing Management Nearly Doubles Stocking Rate on Wyoming Ranch
Posted on: Aug 28, 2013
How much extra revenue can your ranch can generate with a well-managed grazing program depends heavily on the ranch, its size, soils, and condition; however, overall performance can often be substantially improved with strategic grazing management. Formulating and executing a good grazing management plan has significant implications for revenue streams and cost structure.
In the Northern Rockies, early indicators of good grazing management include reduced bare ground, reduced soil erosion, and a faster mineral cycle. In time, if the good grazing practices are continued, plant species composition may shift to favor more productive grass species. This not only allows stocking rates to increase, but livestock performance is typically also enhanced. The increased revenue stream that results from improved land performance adds to the top line, while the cost structure may remain the same.
As an example, consider a Wyoming ranch that Ranch Advisory Partners has worked with for years. Roughly 10 years ago, bare soil was frequently observed in pastures and significant erosion was occurring throughout the ranch. With a change in grazing management, nearly no bare ground may be seen today, erosion is nonexistent, and shifts in plant species have occurred that favor more productive grasses. This ranch has experienced a major improvement in overall rangeland health and pasture performance.
While the improvements rangeland health tell the story well, the ranch’s financial statements look even better. Ten years ago, the ranch harvested 4,258 animal unit months (AUMs) worth of forage from its pastures. This year, the ranch will harvest 8,297 AUMs, which represents a 95% increase in stocking rate on the same land base. In the process, ranch nearly doubled its revenue without altering its cost structure. This example illustrates the financial benefits that accrue when grazing practices are strategically managed.