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Country: UK

Dairy or/and meat sheep: Meat

Source of information: Industry information:

Level of solution:






Just Being Tested


Aim: To increase pasture quality, yield and utilization to improve ewe nutrition at mating


  • The stock are moved through a series of paddocks to give the pasture intense grazing followed by a rest period; this improves the quality of grass, the quantity grown and the amount that is utilized by the stock.
  • Using the following three measurements we can calculate the number of days grazing in a field to divide according to how frequently the farmer would like to move the animals:
    • i) Grass available is measured using a calibrated sward stick which converts grass density into kilograms of dry matter per hectare.
      ii) Target residuals (the amount of grass left behind) – this will depend on the time of year.
      iii) The flock demand calculated based on their energy requirements at specific times of the year. 
  • This gives greater control so that quality pasture can be allocated to the flock at critical times (e.g. mating)

Expected benefits: Increased pasture quality, improved pasture utilization and therefore increased stocking rate potential.

Prerequisites and/or limits (knowledge, training, capabilities, cost, management, facilities, equipment, etc.)

  • Training on how to measure grass and allocate with electric fencing
  • Confidence with rotational grazing comes with experience
  • Software is useful, but not essential, to make planning easier
  • Time is a big limitation; farmers need to dedicate time to measure grass

Scientific Basis:

McWilliam, E. L., Barry, T. N., Lopez-Villalobos, N., Cameron, P. N., & Kemp, P. D. (2004). The effect of different levels of poplar (Populus) supplementation on the reproductive performance of ewes grazing low quality drought pasture during mating. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 115(1–2), 1–18.


Tips & Tricks


Extended feeders


Expected impacts


Benefit expected

Increase productivity
Better feed management


Is the solution suitable for various production systems



If no – for which system

The sward stick equations were developed in New Zealand and work reasonably well in the UK. They would require changing for hotter climes. In addition, the grazing rules may need adapted for different climatic scenarios.


What are the asset costs


What are the maintenance costs


Any limits to its applicability


Work Load



Service provider/tech.-vet-others

How much time is required to prepare and implement the solution

1 day – 1 week

<1 day

How many people is needed to implement the solution?




How long it takes to get results?


How long it takes to see  an effect on sheep productivity?

next production period




Service provider/technicians-vet-others

What kind of equipment/tool are necessary?

Fencing and water infrastructure



Skill/Knowledge-Training (farmer)

Does the solution need any specific skill/knowledge or training?


How much time will be required for training

1 day – 1 week

Wider Environment

Is there any particular regulation link to the solution?

Public access

Does the solution need any particular structure or organisation?

Rotational grazing needs to be well planned and adapted to seasonal conditions


Users’ evaluation

Country(ies_ testing

 France, Spain, Italy

Solution No/Name

 13 – Rotational grazing rules and QMS sward stick

Farmer/Service provider/technicians-vet-others

Solution tested in Italy by a farmer, in Spain by an adviser, and in France by a farmer (on a farm) and by advisers on an experimental station.

Why did you select this solution?

 Improve grassland management and optimise grass utilisation

Was it easy to implement?

France – yes, Italy – No, Spain – more or less

If not say what are the identified drawbacks?

High number of measurements required to capture variation, Labour requirement, calibration equations need adapting for different countries

Did you need to adapt it?


If yes, how?

Heavier plate and longer stick for taller grass; difference density-grass height calibration equations; could be simplified using a boot mark.

Were you happy with the outcome of the solution?

Happy face: Italy gave it 2/5, France and Spain 4/5

What were the outcomes?

Practical and easy-to-carry solution, references required for different countries. Rotational grazing can benefit soil organic matter, plant biodiversity, grass yield and grazing season duration

Score the solution

Interesting but need adaptations to implement it

Will you continue to implement it?

Spain was the only group that will continue to implement

If not, for which reasons?

France and Italy found it too laborious and suggest using more automated tools




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