How many cows?

5 posts

Member for

12 years 4 months
Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 01/24/2012 - 21:58

How many cows?

How do I find out how many head of cattle my land can sustain?

Last seen: 09/17/2019 - 18:07
Joined: 11/23/2011 - 09:38

Hi Rick and welcome,

 I would like to help but would need to know a few more details for instance:
1. Location of the land and its size.
2. Type of land- flat, or undulating and so on
3. Soil type
4. Water
5. Native or improved pasture
6. Cleared or timbered

All of these things will influence how many head of cattle that you can put on your land.

Looking forward to hearing from you.



Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 10/01/2011 - 10:46

On average I can run 1 minature breeding cow per hectare or 2.5 acres and one full size cow per 1.5-2 hectares or 4-5 acres. I have mostly sown pastures, not native grasses, which I try and fertilise every other year. I usually keep some hay in the shed for times of drought and for winter time when there is not much pasture growth.

I guess it will depend a lot on where your farm is, what the soil is like and how much rain you get?

Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 01/24/2012 - 21:58

Thanks for you responses...not many cows looks like the answer!!

The land is in Elphinstone Victoria 

It is 8 acres of flat and cleared paddocks

Not sure about the pasture

One dam no idea what size it is, access to water through a water right,  600mm rainfall per annum

The soil is 'yellowish grey duplex soil?' according to the online govt survey for the area.

Is that what you're after?

I appreciate your help

Last seen: 12/26/2018 - 09:21
Joined: 05/31/2011 - 09:44

Hi Rick,

Thanks for the information you have provided. 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 cow 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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