Livestock UnitsRSS feed

Posted: Monday 25 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:07pm in Smallholding 2 comments Comments closed

I've been researching infromation about managing grassland for a TAS article. One of the useful things I came across was Livestock Units (LUs), courtesy of the SAC Farm Management Handbook. Basically, LUs are a way of comparing the grazing and forage requirements of different livestock. Bear in mind that grass yields are subject to may variables, so LUs are a guide only.

A mature Friesian cow weighing 625kg, giving 4500litres of milk and producing a 40-45kg calf is defined as 1LU; all other livestock is a proportion of this. For example, a medium weight ewe is 0.08LU, a horse is 0.8LU, a lamb from birth to fat is 0.04LU.

One LU needs two acres - one for summer grazing and one to produce winter forage.

We intend to have 12 breeding ewes (middleweight), a tup and a wether, 18 lambs (hopefully) from birth to fat, and probably a couple of gimmers as potential flock replacements. All the adult sheep (16) are 0.08LU and the lambs are 0.04LU, so that comes to 2LU.

We have two Shetland heifers that we plan to put in calf this summer. If they have heifer calves, they will be sold at weaning; bull calves will be castrated and run on to 24 months and slaughtered for beef. I have assumed we get one of each every year. Shetlands are smaller than "conventional" beef or dairy cows, but to be on the safe side, I have counted them as 0.75LU, same as a suckler cow. Calves up to 12 months are 0.34 and we'll have two of them; cattle 12-14 months are 0.65, and we'll have one of them, so the total cattle LU is 2.83.

Total for sheep and cattle - at full production - is 4.83LU.

Horses are 0.8LU but our ponies, for their own good, are mostly confined to the track in Sheepfold and fed hay, with very limited access to grass, so I'm not counting them as 2.4LU.

Excluding the area of the ponies' track, which is about 0.4 acres only, and the acres for the orchard and the hens, we have about 7.5 acres of grass, which is more than adequate. In fact, a cow, calf and fattening steer comes to 1.42 while a ewe and twin lambs is 0.16 so I think I have room for more...



Tuesday 26 April, 2011 at 8:48am

Rosemary this is a useful way of calculating the land requirement. But I did not understand the bit about 7.5a being more than adequate as earlier you had said that each LU requires 2 acres and you have 4.83LU which would need nearly 10a in total - unless you are going to buy in your hay?



Thursday 28 April, 2011 at 12:12pm

Hi, Simon. Yes, we've taken the decision to buy in our hay rather than make our own.

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