Paddock Design

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets

Knowledge Nuggets

  • Initial implementation of a grazing program and paddock design can be fairly simple. Use temporary fencing for subdivisions to gain experience without having to worry about making "mistakes".
  • Paddock shape is determined by the topography, soil type, and species differences to reduce problems of uneven grazing and varying recovery time. If a paddock has a lot of variation in it, some areas will be undergrazed and others severely grazed.
  • Size paddocks to the projected herd size based on forage production potential and preferred stock density to keep the frequency of cattle shifts fairly consistent.
  • As productivity of the land increases, paddock size should be reduced to achieve desired levels of utilization.
  • Generally square paddocks offer more uniform utilization compared to long narrow shapes. This is particularly so for strip grazing where cattle can run along the length of the strip thereby trampling more feed.
  • Developing a practical water distribution system is a significant consideration in designing an efficient grazing program.
  • Provide cattle access to water within 800 feet from any point on the pasture. If cattle have to walk more than this distance to water, they tend to undergraze further from the water source.
  • Temporary water systems utilizing plastic pipe laid over the soil surface and movable tanks work well and allow flexibility in keeping stock from congregating in loafing areas. Portable water systems are a powerful tool for managing grazing distribution and manure cycling.
  • If water cannot be provided in each paddock, laneways designed to bring the stock to the water source are the next alternative. Minimize the common area around a watering site to reduce the amount of loafing. If loafing after drinking exists, reduce the area.
  • Plan the pasture layout to minimize laneway length and keep laneway width within 16 –24 feet to reduce the amount of loafing of the stock. Place gates to the laneway in the corners of the paddocks.
Fact Sheets

Cross Fences for Pastures Under Center Pivot Irrigation

Getting Started Grazing: Paddock Layout And Design

Grazing System Layout and Design - available in PDF format only

Paddock Design and Fencing-Water Systems for Controlled Grazing - available in PDF format only

Number and Size of Paddocks in a Grazing System - available in PDF format only
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Linda Hunt.
This information published to the web on September 3, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 25, 2014.

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