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Management

Grazing spreadsheet can aid producers in managing rangeland

Managing rangeland, whether it is owned or leased, is an essential part of  maintaining a profitable ranch. Producers can make this process easier by downloading a free excel spreadsheet from the University of Nebraska that will allow them to enter up to 50 pastures of grazing records. 

According to Jerry Volesky, range specialist for the University of Nebraska, “The Grazing and Hay Records Spreadsheet is a Microsoft Excel template that can be used for maintaining and summarizing pasture grazing records, as well as records of hay fed to livestock.”

“Producers can not manage if they do not measure,” Volesky said. “Grazing records are important to the range or any pastureland grazing program.” 

Although this program is not new, Volesky said the importance of using some type of grazing record system is very important, so he likes to keep the word out about this program. 

“Producers can use it to help them plan out next year’s grazing, including stocking rates, timing and rotation sequence,” he explained. 

The program can also assist producers with grazing lease arrangements, participation in Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and even in obtaining drought assistance or insurance disaster relief.

Simple startup

Volesky said the information needed to get started is something producers should have on hand. The necessary data include pasture name or number, current year, acres or size of pasture, livestock class, number of head, animal unit equivalent, hay fed in pounds per head per day, if any hay was fed while in that pasture, the date in the pasture and the date out of the pasture. 

“The spreadsheet has formulas built into it to make calculations based on the information a producer inputs into it,” the range scientist explained. “After making the calculations, it will provide a summary.”

Animal unit equivalents

One tip Volesky shared is how to determine animal unit equivalent (AUE). 

For all classes of livestock, the preferred method of calculating AUE is dividing the average weight of the animal by 1,000. For example, a 1,200-pound dry cow would be 1.2 AUE, while a 1,200-pound lactating cow and a 300-pound calf pair would be 1.5 AUE. A 1,800-pound bull would be equivalent to 1.8 AUE.

Volesky also cautioned producers that they may want to make adjustments to their AUEs throughout the year based on the animal’s weight gain or loss. 

Summaries made simple

Once the information is entered into the spreadsheet, summaries can be viewed or printed. The program can give a producer a summary of seasonal distribution of grazing, a stocking rate summary showing planned and used animal unit months (AUMs) by pasture, total, drylot fed hay records and a fed hay summary. 

The drylot fed hay records show the number of head, the estimated amount of hay fed per head per day, when the hay was fed and the total number of tons of hay fed. This amount can be converted to AUMs, too. The fed hay summary gives a producer the total tons of hay fed by livestock classification. 

Projections

Volesky said the pasture summary can also provide the producer with a projected date out, which is a determination of when cattle should be taken out of a certain pasture based on AUMs available. To use this planning tool, Volesky said the producer has to use a pasture of known size, planned AUMs and a set number of head. 

For individual pastures, the program can automatically calculate the planned and available animal unit months of grazing, days of grazing, stocking rates in both AUMs and animal unit days (AUDs) per acre, and used and remaining AUMS. 

“It can also provide a stocking rate summary showing planned and used AUMs by pasture and total,” he said.

The spreadsheet can be downloaded by searching for UNL grazing records at beef.unl.edu. Volesky urges producers who download the spreadsheet to save a blank copy and then open another copy to enter information.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..