How can I determine the optimum hill/high country stocking rate?

How can I determine the optimum hill/high country stocking rate?

Deer stocking rates need to factor in the following main considerations:

  • effective grazing area & season pasture production of paddock
  • desired animal performance and related feed requirements
  • previous performance indicators compared with benchmarks e.g.  weaning rate of hinds, weaning weight of calves, body condition score of hinds at weaning (but be aware that high performance indicators may be indicative of the  ‘Honeymoon Period’ phenomenon whereby carrying capacity of a new species in the farm system is higher in the first 2-3 years than it is subsequently, owing to the initial but declining availability of highly preferred forage species); and
  • environmental indicators e.g. retreat of less preferentially grazed/browsed plant species such as native tussock and shrubs indicates previous stocking rates were excessive relative to the feed supply.