Stocking rates refer to the number of stock, e.g. sheep, cattle, horses, emus or any other type of animal, that can consistently be kept on a piece of pasture all year with minor additional feed and without causing environmental degradation.
Stocking rates are shown as dry sheep equivalents (DSE) which are the number of adult sheep (wethers) that can be sustained on each hectare all year round. A 50kg wether is the accepted standard for DSE.
Stocking rates are largely based on the amount of pasture that each particular type of animal will consume, but are also influenced by feeding patterns, animal weight, hoof type and activity.
A stocking rate that is higher than the land resources can sustain, can lead to degradation problems such as soil erosion, water pollution and damage to vegetation.
To manage these problems, most local planning schemes contain provisions requiring that stocking rates in special rural and other ‘rural residential’ zones match those recommended by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).
The size and characteristics of the property will play a major role in determining if the property can sustain livestock. Some properties will not be suited to this type of activity.
The Stocking rate guidelines for rural small holdings publication aims to:
- provide a method and information for determining the base stocking rate most suited to particular soil-landscapes in ‘rural residential’ areas
- encourage planners, developers and land management assessors to consider stocking rates during the planning process
- provide information to local authorities and community members to enable informed decisions on stocking rates to be made.
With the right stocking rate you can prevent damage (e.g. soil erosion and damage to vegetation) and ensure that you create a sustainable and healthy small property.
To access an electronic copy of the Stocking rate guidelines for rural small holdings please visit our Research Library and search 'Stocking rate guidelines'.