WEST LAFAYETE, Ind. — Livestock producers who are unsure how many animals their pastures can support can get the answers they need with the help of a grazing stick produced by the Indiana Forage Council.

Grazing sticks, which look like a yardstick with an algebraic equation, have been helping livestock producers for years, said Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension forage specialist.

Johnson, who also is the forage council secretary-treasurer, said the stick made out of durable plastic has a side with a traditional yardstick in addition to equations to help determine a field’s grazing potential.

The tool allows producers to calculate forage growth and how much forage animals will consume. It also helps them visualize the amount of forage available.

“It’s convenient to have equations on the stick,” Johnson said. “The reality is for people to work through the math and then follow through.”

The management stick usually is good for beginners. A producer might use the tool for a season or two and then never use it again because they can look at a field and see what’s available, Johnson said.

“It’s a method to help producer’s fine-tune their own eyes,” he said.

The underlying principal of the tool is not to “overgraze or undergraze a pasture,” Johnson said.

The situation at each pasture will vary depending on the time of the year and other factors, he said.

Grazing sticks cost $5 for orders of nine or fewer sticks and $4 for orders of 10 sticks or more.

Those interested can find an order form online at www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/ifc/grazing%20stick%20order-form%202010.pdf. The form should be completed and mailed to the Indiana Forage Council.

Instructions on how to use the tool can be found at www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/IFC/instructions.pdf.

Those with additional questions can reach Johnson at 765-494-4800 or johnsonk@purdue.edu.