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Livestock units and stocking rates

When calculating stocking rates or densities, livestock units (LU) are used, sometimes referred to as cow equivalents (ce). These ratios are based on feed requirements of different livestock.  Stocking rates or densities are then expressed as Livestock Units per hectare (LU/ha).

The following tables provide a guide to livestock units:

Grazing Livestock Units:

Dairy cows 1.00
Beef cows (excl. calf) 0.75
Heifers in calf (rearing) 0.80
Bulls 0.65
Other cattle (excl. intensive beef):  
0-1 year old 0.34
1-2 years old 0.65
2 years old and over 0.80
Lowland ewes 0.11
Upland ewes 0.08
Hill ewes 0.06
Breeding ewe hoggs 0.5 to 1 year 0.06
Other sheep, over 1 year 0.08
Store lambs, under 1 year 0.04
Rams 0.08

(Source: Nix, 2003)

Other Livestock Units

Breeding sows 0.44
Gilts in pig 0.20
Maiden gilts 0.18
Boars 0.35
Other pigs 0.17
Cocks, hens, pullets in lay 0.017
Pullets, 1 week to point of lay 0.003
Broilers 0.0017
Other table chicken 0.004
Turkeys 0.005
Ducks, geese, other poultry 0.003
Horses 0.80
Milch goats 0.16
Other goats 0.11

(Source: Nix, 2003)

Total livestock units on a farm should be calculated by multiplying the above ratios by the monthly livestock number averaged over the whole year.

When calculating stocking density allowances can be made for differences in output (e.g. milk yield), breed and quantities of non-forage feed consumed.

Nix, J. (2003) Farm Management Pocketbook 34th Edition (2004). Imperial College London, Wye Campus. September 2003. ISBN 0-954120102-4

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