Feedbase Planning and Budgeting Tool

The EverGraze Feedbase Planning and Budgeting Tool  is an Excel based tool that can be used to undertake many different tasks including;

  • Simple Pasture Budgets
  • Seasonal Pasture Budgets
  • Set up a Grazing Rotation
  • Compare feeding different supplements at pasture
  • Compare Gibberellic acid or N fertiliser to boost pasture growth

The figures used in the Tool are taken from a combination of the Lifetime wool website and tables from Prograze (MLA and NSW DPI) and the Agriculture Victoria Drought Feeding Manual.  A full list of tables can be found here. Feed on Offer figures can be estimated using the AWI FOO library. Pasture growth data for different regions is shown below.

Examples and details of how to use the different sections of this Tool and video tutorials are shown below.

Simple paddock budgets

Simple paddock budgets improve decisions about allocating stock to pastures and determining when they need to be moved. The Feedbase Planning and Budgeting Tool contains a number of sections which provide quick ways to calculate budgets for variables such as Feed On Offer (FOO), stock type and number of days of grazing available

How long will my paddock last?

Working out how long stock can be left in a paddock before it reaches desired minimum FOO is one of the most common feed budgeting questions. To complete the calculation, you will need to know the current FOO, desired FOO you want to have when the animals are removed, the pasture growth, consumption rate of the animals, and the number of animals grazing in the paddock. A video below shows how the Tool can be used to complete the calculation. A full copy of the working is also provided for this example.

Example

Bill wants to know how long his lactating ewes with single lambs can be grazed in a 10 ha paddock. The  current FOO is 1600 kg DM/ha, has around 30% clover, is green and growing at 20 kg/ha/day, and pasture is estimated as 75% digestible. He has decided that ewes should be removed from the paddock when FOO is 1200kg DM/ha, which is the minimum required to maintain ewes with single lambs. The grazing flock is 800,  60kg, single-bearing ewes which have been lactating for 30 days.

Using the calculator, Bill is able to see that his ewes will be consuming 2.5 kg DM/hd/day meaning that he can only graze the paddock for 2 days before FOO falls below 1200 kg DM/ha.

DATA

PADDOCK DETAILS

a) Paddock Size (Ha)

10

b) Current Food on Offer (Kg DM/Ha)

1600

c) Pasture Quality

75% dig, 10.8 MJ ME/kg – Green, 15-30% clover

d) *Consumption Wastage Factor

30%

e) Pasture Growth (Kg DM/Ha/Day)

20.0

f) Desired food on offer when animals removed (Kg DM/Ha)

1200

ANIMAL CONSUMPTION

Stock Type 1

Ewes/Wethers

Average Weight (Kg/Hd)

60

Physiological State

Lactating – 30 days

Twins/Singles

Singles

g) Number of Animals Grazing

800

h) Consumption (Kg DM/Hd/Day)

2.5

Maintenance Energy Required (MJ ME/Hd/Day)

23.4

RESULTS
m) Food on offer for consumption (Kg DM/ha)

400.0

=b-f
n) Total animal consumption + waste (Kg DM/day)

2600.0

=(g*h+i*j+k*l)*(1+d)
o) Daily consumption per Ha + wastage (Kg DM/Ha/Day)

260.0

=n÷a
p) Change in food on offer (Kg DM/ha/day)

-240.0

=e-o
Number of days paddock will last (=m÷p)

2

*When stock graze pasture some losses occur through trampling, fouling, etc.  Wastage is commonly between 15-40% of what is eaten each month.  Use lower wastage for low stocking rates and dry paddocks; higher rates for higher stocking rates and wet paddocks.

How many hectares do I need?

This calculator can be used to determine the area required for a mob of animals grazing for a set period .You will need to know the current FOO, growth of pasture, desired FOO at the end of grazing, and livestock details; size, physiology and numbers . The Tool is particularly useful for setting up paddocks for the lambing or calving  period.

How many stock can I run in this paddock?

This calculator estimates the number of stock that can be grazed in a paddock for a given period as compared to the question of how many hectares do I need.  This is an important question when allocating stock to lambing/calving paddocks for a set period, or to determine the number animals required to quickly graze a paddock down at the autumn break or as part of a spray/graze weed management program.

To calculate how many stock can be run in a paddock for a certain number of days, you will need to know the current FOO, estimated pasture growth, FOO required at the end of grazing, and livestock numbers, physiology and type.   A video demonstration of the Tool is provided below.

Seasonal Feed Budgets

During summer and winter, producers need to be able to estimate how long the available pasture will last or if required pasture targets will be met at critical times of the year, ie minimum pasture cover remains in the autumn or sufficient feed is available in winter for lambing.

The seasonal budgeting calculators available in the EverGraze Feedbase Planning and Budgeting Tool can be used to plan 4-5 months ahead and so take early actions if the planned targets are not going to be achieved.

Budgeting for winter feed

During winter, pasture growth is usually equal to or below the requirements of the livestock on the farm. Supplementary feed, deferred grazing, Nitrogen fertiliser and/or Gibberellic Acid can be used to boopasture st growth if required. However, there is no need to use these relatively expensive options if pasture growth will meet animal requirements. The Winter Feed Budget Tool allows producers to estimate the likely FOO on the complete farm or sections of the farm and determine if intervention is required to ensure that FOO targets for lambing or calving are likely to be achieved.

From the initial data, it appears that FOO will be below target levels in July and August. Application of Nitrogen fertiliser or Gibberellic Acid in July can be used to avoid thus pasture deficit.

Budgeting for summer-autumn feed

During summer and autumn, the dry feed available on farms is required to provide the bulk of the ration for grazing stock and also protect the soil from wind or water erosion during summer and ahead of the autumns break. Farmers need to have a good idea of when the feed on offer (FOO) in the paddocks will reach the critical threshold for their farm and soils, 70% ground cover and 800 kg/ha for flat and heavier soils and 100% ground cover and 1000 kg/ha for steeper landscapes and lighter soils.

A further complication is that in summer and autumn, dry pasture decays, is eaten by insects, blows away or is washed away or rots if rain occurs. So even if there are no stock in the paddock, 30-40% of the available pasture may be “lost” each month. The highest rates of decay and loss in summer occur with high quality pastures such as pure clover pastures with low rates of decay/loss for low quality pastures such as those dominated by Onion grass, silver grass or low quality summer active native grasses.

To use the Summer Feed Budget Tool, producers need to enter the current FOO in the paddock/farm, the numbers and types of stock grazing the paddock/farm, and estimate the likely loss of pasture from decay/wind etc. The calculator will work out the carry-forward FOO for the next month and then the inputs are repeated. The loss of pasture from decay/wind etc decreases as summer progresses as the higher quality material is either eaten by livestock or decays leaving the more fibrous material with a lower rate of decay; ie decay rates for a high quality perennial pasture might be 30% in January, 25% February, 20% March, 15% April and 10% in May.

Managing grazing rotations

As explained in the EverGraze Nuts and Bolts of Grazing Strategies Online Exchange, planning and monitoring to changing conditions are critical steps to get the best performance from pastures and livestock. Factors to consider include allocating stock to appropriate paddocks, managing pasture quantity and quality to meet livestock requirements, and allowing pastures sufficient rest to recover. Farmers also need to think about the current situation, as well as what pasture growth and feed on offer might look like later in the season.. At times it can be difficult to plan a rotation to balance these requirements when paddock sizes, pasture performance and feed on offer varies across the farm. The EverGraze Feed Budget and Rotation Planner provides a good starting point for determining approximately how long each paddock in a rotation will last, likely performance of the livestock, and the overall length of the rotation and hence the rest period for each paddock. The Tool can also be used to determine the total area required for each mob and for keeping records of paddock performance. This page describes a process for setting up a grazing rotation using the EverGraze Feedbase Planning and Budgeting Tool.

Allocating mobs to paddocks or groups of paddocks

Before setting up your grazing system, you first need to decide which paddocks to include. Consider the requirements of each mob on the farm and how many hectares they require to meet FOO targets.

Start by listing the paddocks and grouping them according to their capability and proximity for ease of management. See Dividing up the farm for grazing management. An example is provided below.

DividingUpFarm_Fig 6_web
Division of pastures according to capability, Chris Mirams, Woomagama Station
DividingUpFarm_Fig 7_web
Allocation of stock classes to different areas of the farm according to livestock requirements

You then need to list the mobs and their requirements. This will help to identify which areas of the farm they are most appropriately allocated, and also where mobs could be combined to allow more paddocks for rotational grazing. If the stock carrying capacity (DSE/ha) of each area of the farm is determined, then the area required for each mob can also be roughly determined. Tables 14 (sheep) and 15 (cattle) provide DSE ratings which indicate differences in energy requirements between stock classes throughout the season.

Sales to scanning (eg. Dec – May) Scanning to lambing (eg. May – July) Lambing (eg. July) Marking to weaning (eg. August-October) Weaning to sales (eg. October – December)
Mob DSE/hd, Minimum FOO and quality Mob DSE/hd, Minimum FOO and quality Mob DSE/hd, Minimum FOO and quality Mob DSE/hd, Minimum FOO and quality Mob DSE/hd, Minimum FOO and quality
50 kg dry ewes, 2000 head 1 DSE/hd1200 kg/ha 60% dig or 800 kg/ha 70% dig Single bearing ewes, 1000 head 1.4 DSE/hd800 kg/ha 70% digestible Single bearing ewes, 250 head x 4 mobs 1.9 DSE/hd1000 kg/ha, 75% digestible Mob A: Single bearing ewes 500 head 1.9 DSE/hd, 1000 kg/ha, 75% digestible 50 kg dry ewes, 2000 head 1 DSE/hd1200 kg/ha, 60% digestible
Twin bearing ewes, 1000 head 1.7 DSE/hd800 kg/ha 70% digestible Twin bearing ewes, 200 head x 5 mobs 2.3 DSE/hd 1500 kg/ha, 75% digestible Mob B: Single bearing ewes 500 head 1.9 DSE/hd, 1000 kg/ha, 75% digestible Light lambs, 800 head (25 kg) 0.8 DSE/hd 1600 kg/ha, 75% digestibility
Mob C: Twin bearing ewes 600 head 2.3 DSE/hd 1500 kg/ha, 75% digestible Medium lambs, 800 head (30 kg) 1 DSE/hd 1600 kg/ha, 75% digestibility
Mob D: Twin bearing ewes 400 head 2.3 DSE/hd 1500 kg/ha, 75% digestible Heavy lambs (35kg) 800 head 1.2 DSE/hd 1600 kg/ha, 75% digestibility
Total DSE 2000 3100 4200 4200 4400

Setting up rotations using the rotation planner

The Rotation Planner in the Feedbase Planning and Budgeting Tool is based on the Feed On Offer (FOO) targets set at the end of grazing for each paddock. The user fills out the area of each paddock, area, current FOO and target FOO at the end of grazing plus expected pasture growth. Animal intake is determined by the class of animal grazed in the paddocks and a wastage factor must also be entered.

The livestock intake data is taken from either the Lifetimewool website , tables from Prograze (MLA and NSW DPI) or the Agriculture Victoria Drought Feeding Manuals. A full list of tables can be found here. Regional pasture growth figures are available.

Deciding the order of paddocks in the rotation

  • You may choose to graze paddocks in order based on FOO on paddock assessment day – the paddock with the highest FOO grazed first, the lowest FOO grazed last.
  • You may order paddocks based around the distance paddocks are from one another – graze paddocks 1, then 2, then 3 etc because they are adjacent.
  • The order may be dictated by characteristics of paddocks and coming weather events – hot weather is predicted for next week and want stock in a paddock with shade.
  • Pasture species may influence the order of grazing – some species may need spelling at certain times of the year to ensure persistence.
  • Nutrient or chemical applications may require stock to be withheld from some paddocks for a short time, ending up further down the order of grazing.

At any time you can change the order of paddocks in the rotation by clicking on Re-calculate Pasture Budgets.

Examples – Planning a rotation using the Rotation Planner based on feed on offer

A YouTube tutorial explaining how a simple rotation can be set up using the EverGraze Feedbase Planning and Budgeting Tool is available here and a written example is provided below.

Example

It’s the 15th of May and Jane wants to plan a rotation for her mob of 900 50kg ewes pregnant (70 days). She enters these figures into the rotation planner.

Table 2. Data entry for Jane’s rotation

Name of Rotation

Jane’s rotation

Starting date (Day and Month)

15-May

Total area in rotation (Ha)

80

Stock Type

Ewes

Av. Weight (kg/Hd)

50

Physiological State

Pregnant 70 days

MJ ME/Hd Required For Maintenance (Lifetimewool Table 1a)

9.0

Number of animals in rotation

900

Consumption Wastage Factor

20%

Decay Wastage Factor

0%

Table 3. Paddocks in Jane’s rotation on the measurement date

Paddock Name Order of Paddocks in Rotation Paddock Area (Hectares) Feed on offer on measurement date (Kg DM/Ha) (Table 8) Pasture Quality (Table 12) Estimated pasture growth per day (Kg DM/Ha/Day) Target food on offer when animals taken out (Kg DM/Ha)(Table 7) Energy intake from pasture at target food on offer when animals taken out (MJ ME/hd/day) (Table 5)

House

1

10

1500

75% dig, 10.8 MJ ME/kg – Green, 15-30% clover

20.0

1000

11.7

Scrubby

2

15

1300

70% dig, 10 MJ ME/kg – Green, grassy

15.0

1000

9.2

Olive

3

20

1100

70% dig, 10 MJ ME/kg – Green, grassy

8.0

1000

9.2

Nixes Cross

4

10

1500

60% dig, 8.2 MJ ME/kg – Gone to seed

20.0

1000

7.3

Wombat

5

15

1100

70% dig, 10 MJ ME/kg – Green, grassy

30.0

1000

9.2

Red Gum

6

10

900

75% dig, 10.8 MJ ME/kg – Green, 15-30% clover

20.0

1000

11.7

After completing all the details, Jane sees that each paddock is going to last between three and 11 days. Jane estimates the growth rate of each paddock for the next rotation and sees that each paddock is only going to get between 17 and 30 days rest before the next grazing. Other observations are that Wombat paddock will be grazed for 11 days while Olive paddock will only last three days, and Nixes Cross, which is too low in quality to meet energy requirements of the ewes close to lambing, will be grazed for seven days.

Table 4. Results of Jane’s rotation

Paddock Name

Food on offer when animals in (Food on offer at measurement + feed grown since measurement)

Animal Consumption (Kg DM per Hd per Day)

Number of days paddock will last to reach target food on offer

Days since start of rotation (when pasture measurement was taken)

Date to move stock to next paddock based on target food on offer

Pasture growth rate between stock coming out and next rotation

Total days rest before next grazing

Food on offer at start of next rotation

House

1500

1.4

4

0

18-May

15.0

30

1456

Scrubby

1360

1.2

5

3

23-May

10.0

29

1288

Olive

1172

1.2

3

8

26-May

5.0

30

1148

Nixes Cross

1741

1.1

7

11

2-Jun

15.0

25

1368

Wombat

1686

1.3

11

18

12-Jun

25.0

17

1433

Red Gum

1507

1.4

4

28

16-Jun

15.0

20

1294

Jean wants to achieve a slightly longer rest period (40 days), and even up the days spent in each paddock. She decides to try changing the order of the paddocks so that Wombat paddock is grazed earlier. She also increases the target residual FOO in Nixes Cross to 1400 kg/ha so they are moved on more quickly, and adds Pine paddock to the rotation to allow for a bit longer rest. Jane is happy with the result and she sees that there is plenty of feed building up in the Feed on offer at the start of the next rotation column and she should be comfortable for lambing.

Table 5. Jane’s revised rotation

Paddock Name

Food on offer when animals in (Food on offer at measurement + feed grown since measurement)

Animal Consumption (Kg DM per Hd per Day)

Number of days paddock will last to reach target food on offer

Days since start of rotation (when pasture measurement was taken)

Date to move stock to next paddock based on target food on offer

Pasture growth rate between stock coming out and next rotation

Total days rest before next grazing

Food on offer at start of next rotation

House

1500

1.4

4

0

18-May

15.0

35

1518

Scrubby

1360

1.2

5

3

23-May

10.0

33

1334

Olive

1370

1.2

7

8

29-May

25.0

31

1781

Nixes Cross

1812

1.1

4

14

2-Jun

15.0

40

1997

Wombat

1258

1.2

5

18

6-Jun

5.0

41

1205

Red Gum

1386

1.3

3

22

9-Jun

15.0

41

1616

Pine

1729

1.4

11

25

19-Jun

10.0

35

1354

Further Information

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