Establishing the correct stocking rate is critical in optimizing forage production and maintaining animal performance while ensuring the sustained health of the grazing resources. Accurately calculating range and forage production of grazing resources is important when estimating carrying capacity and stocking rate. The most accurate method to calculate forage production is the clip-and-weigh method. The NDSU Grazing Calculator helps land manager/owner estimate carrying capacity and set initial stocking rate for their grazing resources.
Carrying capacity is a measurement of how much forage a unit or piece of ground is able to produce on an average year. The carrying capacity is the maximum stocking rate possible that is consistent with maintaining or improving the forage and plant community, and other related resources. Stocking rate is the number of animals grazing a unit of land for a specific time period. Stocking rate is one of the most important grazing management decisions a rancher or land manager makes.