Grazing livestock in the MLR – pasture and grazing management

  • Fact sheet
  • August 2015
Sheep in pasture

Pasture management

Pastures that consist mainly of annual grasses with little clover are considered to be of poorer quality. Those with a high density of perennial grasses, good clover content and few weeds are considered high quality.

Monitor pastures for any changes. Look for an increase in perennial plants and clover, and a reduction in pasture weeds. After two years, review the pasture and determine inputs required to increase production. If considering an over-sow or a re-sow, consult a qualified land management advisor or pasture agronomist.

Test soil and plants to diagnose and monitor soil nutrients to ensure optimum fertiliser applications. Monitor soil pH to determine if soil acidity is increasing and if so, how much lime is required to correct the acidity problem.

Use soil amendments and modifications where soil limitations can be corrected. For example, add lime or dolomite to acid soils and trace elements where deficiencies are known. Test soils before undertaking any remedial actions to determine the extent of action required.

Encourage biological activity of soil microbes and earthworms by correcting soil acidity and also increasing soil organic matter.

Understand the growth patterns of pasture species and match grazing to these patterns.

Consider native perennial pasture species as a low input alternative to introduced grasses.

Weed control

Recommended practices for weed control in pastures include:

Contact your local agronomist for further information.

Grazing management

Grazing management practices vary depending on the type of animal being grazed.

You should seek specialist advice regarding the selection and establishment of pasture species appropriate to your area, soil condition and type of animals.

As a general pasture management rule, aim to start grazing paddocks when pasture is green and 6-10cm high.

Graze the pasture to 2-4cm in one week (two weeks maximum), and then rest the paddock until pasture is back to 6-10cm high.

Over the summer months, aim for a 2-week grazing period followed by a 6-10 week rest. Ensure adequate ground cover at all times. A vital part of successful rotational grazing is to have enough feed ahead of the animals.

When feed quality and/or quantity run low, supplementary feeding will be required. This will help you to maintain stock condition, and protect paddocks from erosion and subsequent soil loss.

Types and amounts of supplementary feed will depend on the stock. Consult a qualified land management advisor, pasture agronomist, or livestock consultant for further information.

More information

We have developed a range of factsheets about grazing livestock in the Mount Lofty Ranges to assist you with good land management. See the related links below.

Related links