Raising cattle for meat, how many per acre

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Raising cattle for meat, how many per acre

stevo7's picture
Joined: 29/01/2018

Hi all,

My name is Andrew and im new to the site.

I have just bought a small property and am looking at options for livestock. At the moment I will have a one acre paddock to use. I was looking at maybe a couple of cattle for meat. I was hoping to have two, with a view to turning over one a year. I am wondering if an acre would be big enough, and what type of cattle would best suit my purpose? Any thoughts or information would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,



admin's picture
Joined: 28/02/2011
Hi Andrew,
Thanks for question and welcome to the small farm forum.
The type and history of pasture practices (fertiliser) will be an important factor in determining the number of cattle you can run. To measure stocking rate, each animal is given a rating based on its feed consumption, this is called Dry Stock Equivalent (DSE). An estimated carrying capacity for your area, depending on the pasture type is:
Natural pasture (no seed or fertiliser) 2-3 DSE/ha
Improved natural pasture (plus sub clover and fertiliser) 3-6 DSE/ha
Improved perennial grasss/clover (plus fertiliser) 8-12 DSE/ha
DSE rating for cows:
500kg dry cow 8 DSE's 
500kg lactating cow 16 DSE's
If you work on an average of 12 DSE throughout the year (lactating and dry) and a carrying capacity of your land of 6 DSE, you need 2ha x 6 DSE =12 DSE (for 1 cow). So on 3.2ha's you could run 1.6 cows.
I would start with one head and see if your land can carry that, you will also need to allow for progeny (if you keep last years calf). If you want to be able to run more than this, you could look at a small cattle breed like Lowlines. On average you will be able to run twice the number of small cattle compared to large.

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