Penn State
ForagesPeopleTopicsResourcesSelection ToolContact Info

Topics : Pastures : 4 Steps to Rotational Grazing

4 Steps to Rotational Grazing

  • Introduction
  • STEP 1: Determine Number of Animal Units
  • STEP 2: Estimate Number of Acres Needed
  • STEP 3: Estimate the Number of Paddocks Needed
  • STEP 4: Estimate Size of Each Paddock

Additional pasture information via the Forage Information System (FIS)


A well-managed pasture program can often be the most economical way to provide forage to ruminant animals. It is estimated that on many dairy farms where pasture makes up a significant portion of the forage program, feed costs can be reduced by $.50 to $1.00 per day per cow during the grazing season. However, to optimize the production and utilization of pasture, as well as animal performance, careful planning and sound management are important. Knowing your animals, plants and soils, and being able to respond to their needs is a skill that must be developed if rotational grazing is to be successful on your farm.

Developing a pasture system that utilizes your land resources and fits in with your total animal, forage and crop program is an important first step in pasture management. A major goal in pasture management is to provide quality pasture for the grazing animals throughout the grazing season. By using the information provided in this brochure, you can better plan to attain this goal.

Example herd

To demonstrate how each of the 4 Step into rotational grazing works, an example beef cow herd of 30, 1300-lb cows with calf and one 2000- lb bull will be used.