Forage-Livestock Systems

This site provides links to Fact Sheets, Tutorials, "Ye Olde Forage Library ", and Other WWW sites, having information relevant to forage-livestock systems. Our goal is to provide practical information that farmers can use to develop new or improve established forage-livestock systems.

A forage-livestock system is the combination of forages, livestock, management, and marketing that a manager uses to meet personal and business goals. An effective system optimizes the strengths and minimizes the weaknesses of the social, economic, and ecological environment in which it functions.

Just as we live in a three-dimensional world, a forage-livestock system should be viewed in the three dimensions of :

A forage-livestock system is much more than a grazing system. The key to a successful forage-livestock system is unified visioning, planning, and marketing; the management aspects of the agricultural system not just production.


We thank all those who have participated in providing information on this site and the sites linked to. Without their help this information could not be brought together.

Forage-Livestock System Components


Each management team has a unique vision of what it wants to achieve and goals for achieving that vision. Each individual and each land holding provide a unique set of social, economic, and ecological resources that can be used in developing a system. It is the management of these resources to provide a product for a specific market that constitutes a forage-livestock system. An understanding of the interplay of these components is needed in developing an improved system.

Forage-Livestock System Production Centers

Forage growth
Forage harvesting
Animal production

Agriculture is one of the few industries that create new wealth. This is done by plants capturing the energy in sunlight and converting it into a product of use to people. Forages are the predominant crop on 40 percent of the land surface of the United States. They are used for livestock feeds and wildlife habitat. Forages can be harvested and sold to others. However, producers often use animals to add value to forage crops. How efficiently the system converts solar energy to forage, utilizes the forage and converts it to an animal product, and how well the animal product is marketed, determine the profitability of the system.

Sustainable Agriculture Systems


An individual farming or ranching system should be sustainable socially, economically, and ecologically at the field and farm scale. When taken as a whole the forage-livestock systems of a community should be sustainable on the same three points at various regional scales.

This site developed by Ed Rayburn, Extension Specialist

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