cover page title: Multi-Species Brazing and Leafy Spurge Manual
A comprehensive, easy-to-read manual on using multi-species grazing as an effective leafy spurge management tool.

Table of Contents


Stocking Rates

Proper stocking rates are important for any grazing operation, and are particularly important when multi-species grazing is used. Over-stocking can result in overgrazing and deterioration of range health, while under-stocking can result in less efficient utilization of available forage resources. Proper stocking rates and vigilant monitoring of range conditions will help ensure that long-term goals are being fulfilled.

Stocking rates for operations grazing a combination of species, such as cattle and sheep, include some varying calculations. An average stocking rate of 1 to 2 sheep per acre of leafy spurge over a four-month grazing season is generally recommended for acceptable control, with lighter stocking rates west of the Missouri River and heavier east of the Missouri River. Sheep stocking rates for one month would be 6 to 8 sheep per acre. Keep in mind that stocking rates vary widely based on geography, environmental factors and long-term management goals.

To determine the stocking rate for a specific time, adjust animal numbers per acre by dividing the one-month stocking rate by the number of months intended to graze.

Stocking rates should be based on actual infested acreage rather than on total pasture size! This will minimize grass consumption by sheep, thus allowing maximum grass production for cattle. A four-month grazing season is recommended because it corresponds with the growing season and is the most effective and efficient system for leafy spurge control with a multi-species grazing situation.

The chart below can be used to estimate the most appropriate stocking rates for your operation and goals.

Recomended Sheep & Goat Stocking Rates for Leafy Spurge Control

West of Missouri River East of Missouri River
Animals Per Acre Months Grazed Animals Per Acre
SheepGoats SheepGoats
4 12 1 8 16
2 6 2 4 8
1.5 4.5 3 3 6
1 3 4 2 4
.875 2.625 5 1.75 3.5
.75 2.25 6 1.5 3


The Formula

This simple formula can be used to estimate the proper sheep and goat stocking rates for leafy spurge control. Keep in mind that these estimates can vary depending on your location (geography), range conditions, environmental factors and long-term management goals.

_____ acres of leafy spurge X _____ sheep/acre for # of months to be grazed = _____ sheep

• Example 1: A 600-acre cow/calf pasture with 200 acres of leafy spurge near Lemmon, S.D. (west of the Missouri River). Producer plans to graze sheep from May 15 to August 15 (three months). Here’s the formula: 200 acres of leafy spurge X 1.5 sheep/acre for planned months grazed = 300 sheep.

• Example 2: A 200-acre cow/calf pasture with 65 acres of leafy spurge near Valley City, N.D. (east of the Missouri River). Producer plans to graze sheep from May 15 to September 15 (four months). Here’s the formula: 65 acres of leafy spurge X 2 sheep/ acre for planned months grazed = 130 sheep.


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