The primary objective is to fit the animal demand curve to the pasture supply curve. Five options are available:

  1. Improving the proportion of pasture grown that is utilised for animal production (pasture utilisation). Higher pasture utilisation means having more stock on when surplus pasture is available, but not when supply is low. Increasing pasture utilisation does not have to mean increasing stocking rate all year round. Utilisation can also be increased by pasture conservation, for example, making hay or silage to feed back to sheep at a time when green pasture is limiting.
  2. Modify animal demand by changing the management calendar (e.g., changing time of lambing so peak lactation is in line with peak pasture growth).
  3. Change your enterprise mix to better meet feed supply. For example, your country may be better suited to turning off store lambs than finished lambs.
  4. Change pasture supply by using different pasture species, e.g., summer active as well as winter active species.
  5. Do all of the above.

Sowing pastures species (option 4 above) incurs an upfront cost but can be very beneficial to address natural resource issues (e.g., to increase groundcover, reduce salinity), improve production outcomes (e.g., growing weaners) or when targeting new markets (e.g., heavy weight lambs). The primary focus is to make better use of what is currently growing.

Modifying animal demand by changing the annual livestock management calendar will help match existing animal demand to pasture supply. It may also highlight opportunities for increasing stocking rate, or a need to reduce stock numbers during periods of the year.

It is more important to match supply and demand within seasons than for the entire year. This ensures animal demand is met and pasture resources are not degraded by over or under utilisation.