Livestock Distribution

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • Proper livestock distribution over pastures can increase rangeland production. Grazing distribution is spreading grazing animals over a management unit to obtain uniform use of all forage resources.
  • Grazing distribution varies with the kind and class of grazing animal, topography, location of water, salt and mineral placement, forage palatability, vegetation type, forage quality, forage quantity, location of shade and shelter, fencing patterns, pasture size, grazing system, stock density, and prevailing winds.
  • Ideal grazing distribution occurs when the entire pasture is grazed uniformly to an appropriate degree within a predetermined time frame.
  • Cattle, being creatures of habit, rarely graze uniformly when left alone. They graze convenient areas, especially those near water and easily accessible. Livestock do not graze randomly. They prefer some grazing sites to others. Livestock must be forced or enticed to seldom used areas.
  • Improving grazing distribution results in higher harvest efficiency because livestock consume a greater proportion of the available forage. Improving grazing distribution also spreads defoliation effects across a greater proportion of available forage plants.
  • Methods for improving livestock distribution include:
    • Managing stock density and/or season of grazing.
    • Forcing animals to specific locations by fencing.
    • Using grazing management strategies such as rotational grazing or flash grazing.
    • Enticing animals to specific locations with water, salt, supplemental feed, or rub and oiler placement.
    • Using the kind and class of livestock best suited to the terrain and vegetation characteristics.
  • Placement of water developments is probably the most important factor affecting grazing distribution. Water is the central point of grazing activities. Near water, plants are heavily used and forage production drops. Salt and mineral should be placed away from water and used to distribute animals more uniformly.
  • Topography is an important cause of poor grazing distribution. Pastures should be fenced to minimize variability in topography, plant communities, and timing of plant growth.
  • Shade is the an important factor of animal distribution as animals will migrate towards shade during the hot times of the day to stay cool and to avoid insect irritation.
  • Reducing pasture size and reducing the distance to water can significantly improve livestock distribution.
Fact Sheets

Livestock Grazing Distribution: Considerations and Management - available in PDF format

Managing Saskatchewan Rangeland - available in PDF format only

Patch Grazing and Sustainable Rangeland Production - available in PDF format only

Proper Livestock Grazing Distribution on Rangeland

Research Papers

The Effects of Fall Defoliation on the Utilization of Bluebunch Wheatgrass and Its Influence on the Distribution of Deer in Spring - available in PDF format only

Stability of grazed patches on rough fescue grasslands - available in PDF format only
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Janet Fletcher.
This information published to the web on September 3, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 18, 2017.

Home | Contact Us | Privacy Statement
The user agrees to the terms and conditions set out in the Copyright and Disclaimer © 2003 - 2018 Her Majesty the Queen