Pasture capacity and rate?

Asked May 17, 2019, 5:27 PM EDT

We recently purchased some irrigated acreage near Redmond, Oregon, and would like to rent out our pastures for cattle grazing. Before we venture into this we would like to know what are reasonable parameters for number of animals, and what a reasonable rate to charge for pasture. The property in question has three well-fenced pastures totaling about 10 acres, with 3" handline irrigation (see attached, highlighted screenshot for a satellite image of the property.) Due to our snow and rains, the fields are very green this year, far more so than shown in the image. What would be a reasonable number of cattle to graze here, and what would a reasonable rate to charge be?

Crook County Oregon pastures and grazing livestock

1 Response

First, let me define "head" of livestock. For the purpose of pasture rent, we do this in units called an animal unit month (AUM). An AUM is equivalent to a 1,000-lb cow or 5 large sheep or 7 smaller sheep. A larger cow would be more (1,200 lb cow = 1.2 AUM)
500 lb feeder calves are 0.5 AUM
750 lb feeder calves are 0.75 AUM
A cow-calf pair is charged only for the cow if the calf is less than 3 months old.
Calves over 3 months old start eating a significant amount of forage
I am attaching several publications that will give you more information on pasture rental rates.
In central Oregon, we generally figure one AUM per acre for irrigated ground depending on the condition of the pasture. Some pastures will be able to feed a bit more than that and some a little less. In regards to how much to charge for pasture, I have heard of folks getting as high as $50 per AUM on pastures that are high producing, easy to irrigate with good fences and as low as $15 when the pasture and fences are in less than ideal condition. There is also the cost of the electricity to pump the water and the cost of the water. Sometimes those costs are high and the leasee simply pays for water and electricity and the AUM fee is very low or not charged at all.

I hope this helps and feel free to contact me if you have further questions.

Scott Duggan – scott.duggan@oregonstate.edu