heifers on a pasture on a farm
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The Heifer Grazing Compass

The Heifer Grazing Compass is a decision support Excel tool to help farmers plan a conversion to raising their dairy replacement heifers on pasture. The Heifer Grazing Compass is designed to help a user predict and understand the cash flow and long-term financial outcomes that could result from a decision to raise heifers on pasture. It can be used to help dairy farmers assess their options for raising heifers as well as by other farmers, outside of dairy, who might want to start raising heifers on pasture as an enterprise.

Download the Heifer Grazing Compass

The Grazing Heifers Compass has been created, formatted, and protected, so that it does not require advanced computer skills to use. However, if you are new or unfamiliar to Excel spreadsheets, we recommend learning the very basics of Excel prior to using this tool. This amounts to the ability to navigate within an Excel spreadsheet workbook and enter data.

Follow the link below to download the tool. It is free to access and use. We do require that you answer 3 questions to help us understand who is using the tool and to provide an email address so that when we update or improve the tool we can notify users.

This tool was conceived and designed by Brad Barham, John Hendrickson, Connor Mulholland, and Jim Munsch for the University of Wisconsin as part of the Grassland 2.0 project. Questions or comments can be addressed to John Hendrickson at jhendric@wisc.edu or Dr. Barham at Bradford.barham@wisc.edu.

Download the Heifer Grazing Compass
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Why raise heifers using managed grazing versus confinement?

  • Cost savings of 25% to over 50% per head per day during the grazing season.
  • Labor savings of 50% to 75% during the grazing season.
  • Fewer herd health issues.
  • Less wear and tear on existing facilities and equipment.
  • The same or better performance in terms of daily weight gain and future milk production.
  • Create a farm enterprise that appreciates in value, sequesters carbon, and cleans water.
  • Become more self-sufficient and resilient to shocks in corn/soy prices, drought, and flooding.
  • Programs such as EQIP from the USDA NRCS can help offset pasture establishment costs


Heifers Grazing in a field

This is the one of a series of decision support spreadsheet tools focused on pastured livestock. Forthcoming are predictive Compass Tools for beef growing and/or finishing on pasture, cow-calf operations, and dairy beef grazing. In addition, there will be a Pasture Management Compass designed to help Wisconsin graziers of any ruminant get the most from their grass-based enterprise.


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