A grazing chart is a great tool to use in order to properly track and manage your rotational grazing operation! A grazing chart is a chart that tracks the number of fields or paddocks, the dates, and other information desired. In this post I’ll be sharing an Excel-based grazing chart I made as well as how to use it.
I first came across grazing charts while taking the Cornell livestock class back in Spring 2020. They linked to the grazing chart provided by On Pasture and it works quite well. You can download their version there, which has different amounts of paddocks and helpful ways to print theirs.
The one I’m sharing today is based on the On Pasture version but with some modifications. You can download the Grazing Chart 2021 sheet below:
The chart I modified is more based on computer usage and precipitation tracking. You can print the chart, but I’d recommend the On Pasture one above if you desire a printed version.
Setting up and Using the Grazing Chart
So Abilene has a semi-dry environment, prone to drought and long periods without rain. The grazing chart I used this year was very helpful to see the lack of rain beginning in April, prompting me to prepare for a dry-summer. We ended up having a dry summer so the chart was very helpful in implementing our drought mitigation.
As seen in the image above, the features tracked include precipitation (rain and snow), temperature, paddocks, and some basic functions such as color coding temperature and rainfall/snow. We have a farm-policy of bringing the sheep into shade once it gets hot, so tracking up-coming temperatures would say we should bring in the sheep early on September 2nd to September 5th. But on September 6th, they can enjoy the day grazing outside.
You can also see the X markings on each day in September, showing which Paddock/Field they were in. The Paddocks are also broken down to size (for us based on acres, but it can be metric if you want too). How do you find the area of a paddock? You can find out with Google Earth. Download the desktop version according to Google’s instructions. And then find your property and use the Polygon tool to draw your fields:
I made an example above to show (this is Abilene State Park). As you can see, it’s not pitch-perfect, but you can draw shapes, zoom in and out, and get measurements of the area within your shape. Mess around with it and see what you can do! How big or small your fields are will be based on your location, your average rainfall, forage, property size, fencing, etc. You can save your drawings to Google Earth for future reference.
Once you have all your plots ready, you can edit the Paddock column and add the size of each field, along with your name or number for each field.
Next is precipitation:
This is on the first sheet in the Excel file. As you enter precipitation amounts, it’ll be added up here and you can compare them against the historical average for your area. You can find your historical rainfall data at the NOAA. Change your city/location, input the monthly totals under the “Historic” column and you’re good to go!
This excel Grazing Chart for 2021 is fully open to editing, so feel free to change and customize based on your needs!
Edit on 3/30/2021- Noticed April 2021 month did not have colors applied, fixed the ruleset