Comparative Stocking Rate


2 min read

Factors that impact CSR Calculating CSR

Comparative Stocking Rate (CSR) is a tool to measure the balance between feed demand and supply on a farm. It is determined by calculating the amount of livestock weight per hectare versus the annual feed available. You'll find that an optimal CSR (usually between 80 and 90) results in a good balance of milk production and profitability. This method allows for useful comparisons across different farms and systems. To get accurate results, monitor your pasture production, imported feed quantities, and cow weights. Remember, operating profit peaks at a CSR of 76, but slight changes won't hugely impact profitability. Factors like genetics and nutrient limits can also affect your CSR. There's a helpful form at the end of the page to calculate your own farm's CSR.

Comparative Stocking Rate (CSR) is a method of assessing the balance between feed demand and supply on farm and is a much better indicator of the match between feed demand and supply than cows per ha. Average Lwt (kg/cow x No. cows) / Ha Total feed (t DM)

CSR is defined as the amount of liveweight per ha creating feed demand and the annual feed available to meet that demand (kg Lwt/tDM). The optimum CSR level for achieving an appropriate combination of milksolids (MS) production per cow, MS production per hectare and profitability is currently between 80 and 90.

CSR can be used to compare across dairy farms, dairy farm systems and regions as it takes account of differences in location (grass growth potential), system (amount of supplement used) and cow liveweight.

The accuracy of the calculated CSR is dependent on the information used. Farm monitoring of annual pasture production, quantities of imported feed and cow live weight will lead to a more accurate result than using generic local data.

Operating Profit: Research has identified that there is an optimum CSR for operating profit/ha. Research compared five herds over a range of CSR from 60 to 91 kg Lwt/ t DM for three years. Operating profit was maximised at a CSR of 76, while MS/ha was maximised when CSR was 91. The drop in profitability was not large as CSR changed either side of the optimum. This indicates other important management decisions can reduce the impact of not optimising CSR.

Factors that are likely to impact on CSR are:

  • Improved genetics (Breeding Worth) leads to higher annual feed requirements per cow, increasing feed demand even with a constant herd size.
  • Farming within nutrient limits will require some NZ dairy farmers to reduce farm N surplus, requiring a reduction in N input, (both fertiliser and additional feed).

To calculate your CSR you will need:

  1. An estimate of pasture grown (tonnes DM per Ha) for your farm.
  2. To allow for any bought in supplements fed or winter grazing purchased.
  3. To obtain estimated pasture grown/Ha divide pasture eaten/ha by 0.8 (80% utilisation). i.e. 14 tonnes DM/ha pasture eaten = 17.5 t DM/ha pasture grown. 80% utilisation represents good management.
  4. Actual or estimated average liveweight per cow for your herd.
  5. Either weigh a sample of your herd or use default values based on breed of cow.
  6. An estimate of the kg DM supplied in supplement or cow grazing supplied from outside the milking area.

To calculate the CSR for your farm, and determine the effect stocking rate has on your farm efficiency and profitability use the Comparative Stocking Rate form below.

Last updated: Sep 2023
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