The practise of assigning units of lands for specific periods of time is referred to as stocking rate. It is considered as the most important management decision in animal farming. Stocking density plays a critical role in optimising forage performance and maintaining animal outcome while ensuring excellent health and production of livestock. Farmers must therefore be able to balance forage production and animal performance so as to maintain high levels of productivity which translate directly to profitability as well as success of the agricultural venture. Note that this often requires exceptional mathematical skills as it varies according to the type of land (pasture) and prevailing climate among other reasons. Errors in determining the number of cows on 10 acres can result in significant losses. It generally means that animals are provided with limited forage feed which sometimes causes malnutrition and leaves animals exposed to a range of diseases.
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Determining the Number of Cows on 10 Acres
Most farmers experience some difficulty in determining how many cows on 10 acres. To make the task a little less complicated, farmers should note that livestock daily utilisation must always be approximately 1.4 to 4% as they need to gain exactly this amount of weight daily. Note that variations are made according to maturity of the animal among other factors. This information is used to calculate both the number of animals in a specific area of land. In order to draw up the ideal stocking ratio, there are a number of considerations to be made. These include:
- Class of livestock (dry cow, lactating cow, bull, steer)
- Forage demand: the total amount of forage required by the type and class of animals grazing the pasture unit
- Available forage: the amount of forage produced during the year and how much is available for livestock consumption
- Duration: How long the animals will be using the area
- Class of livestock: dry cow, lactating cow, bull or steer
Stocking Density Based on the Rule of Thumb
The number of cows per 10 acres is of the essence to successful livestock production. Stocking density depends on the type of land and the number of animals. Most farmers use the rule of thumb which states that 1.5 to 2 acres can be used to feed a pair of a cow and its calf for approximately 12 months. This generally means that the number of cows on 10 acres is about 5 pairs of mothers and calves. This is the case when 2 acres are given to each pair. As such, 1.5 acre per pair accommodates somewhere around 6 cows with their calves. The upside of using the rule of thumb to determine how many cows per 10 acres is that it a relatively easy method with less complicated calculations. Farmers who are not good with mathematical calculations are therefore able to achieve an ideal stocking density and reach maximum productivity while maintaining good quality forage. However, this can also be a downside as stocking density varies in relation to the type of land among other factors. This means that the number of cows on 10 acres in dry area differs from the stocking density in areas with ample rainfall and good soils. Some farmers have pointed out that the rule of thumb can be dangerous because they are simplified and consist of generalised algorithms hence may not be applicable in some areas. That being said, the rule of thumb cannot be disregarded as it provides a quick estimate and has proven effective in the farming communities for many years.
Heavy Stocking Density
Farmers with limited acreage may practise heavy stocking density. This is often characterised by each cow being given only an acre of land. This basically means that 10 cows are placed on 10 acres. Heavy stocking density has proven successful in areas with good quality forage. Heavy stocking density may require use of supplementary diets in order to meet daily animal feed requirements. Most farmers frown upon this manner of determining how many cows on 10 acres. None the less, keep in mind that carrying capacity varies depending on the soil quality, long term climate, and short term weather. Carrying capacity can also change over time due to how well or poorly the land is managed. As such, heavy stocking density practised on good forages can meet the dietary needs of cows hence reach maximum productivity which directly translates to profitability. Despite its success in some areas, various agricultural research states that Heavy stocking rates are detrimental to both land resources and livestock performance. Over time, heavy stocking causes the more palatable and productive forage species to disappear. It is also stated thatover the short term, a heavy stocking density may lower forage quality by removing green foliage and forcing animals to consume dead, standing forage.
Stocking Density on Rotational Grazing
Rotational grazing is a popular grazing method used to manage livestock forage. It is characterised by the utilization of one portion of the pasture, commonly referred to as a paddock while the remaining land is allowed time to rest and develop. Livestock are moved from one paddock to the next depending on the quality, size and acreage of the paddock. Stocking density in paddocks often differs from that in open lands. When practising stocking density on small acreage, the available land is often less in comparison to animals that require feed. For this reason, animals are provided with limited forage space. The common stocking density practised in rotational grazing is 5 cows per acre. While this seems little, keep in mind that forage is often of high quality and animals are constantly on the move to better pasture lands hence their daily rations are met.
Stocking Density Based on Available Resources
The size and quality of the feeding land also plays a major role in determining the number of cows on 10 acres. The amount of forage available, browsing production season and the daily intake should also be incorporated in the feeding acres planning for cow dietary requirements. Cows are generally known to feed on grass. Pasture lands full of twigs and very long grass are less palatable to cows. In fact, research studies carried out on the subject matter indicates a decline in feeding, weight gain as well as overall productivity in cows given grazing lands with very tall grass. As such, stocking density should take all these aspects into consideration. Poor quality grazing areas mean a decline in how many cows per 10 acres. When coming up with stocking density, the area of land is calculated factoring in landscapes that do not constitute forage. Note that wooden areas should be subtracted from the total amount of grazing land. The division mathematical method is then used to calculate the number of cows on 10 acreage. The total amount of good forage versus total number of livestock provides the appropriate stocking density based on the available resources.