Vermont farmers are not alone when it comes to making improvements to their land, animals, or systems. Our Teams have compiled the comprehensive resources below to assist our farmers and partners in developing new and effective strategies for your operation. Something missing? Contact Us for additional assistance, or to recommend new resources you would like to see. 

Improved Grazing

cow staring at the camera

Good grazing starts with observation and a good plan to keep all of the elements of your farm in balance, and then by accessing the tools available to help you develop a system that meets your goals.

Checklists and Considerations

Rotational Grazing


Bale Grazing

Grazing Planning

hands writing in a book

A grazing plan is the tool used to organize land, animals, budget, effort and time to achieve farming goals.Grazing plans are a dynamic approach that, over time, will help you meet your goals and adjust to changing conditions, which will allow you to achieve profitability and maintain ecological balance.We have gathered the follwing resources to assist in the development of your plan. Contact Us so we can help as you work on and improve yours.

Writing a Grazing Plan

Planning Guides and Worksheets

Pasture Assessment Tools

  • Pasture condition scoring (PCS) is a systematic way to assess how well a pasture is being managed and resources protected. A pasture rated with a high score is well-managed with productivity (plant and animal) being sustained or enhanced. By rating the key indicators common to all pastures, pasture condition can be evaluated and the primary reasons for a low condition score can be identified. A low rating typically means the pasture has one or more challenges, such as poor plant growth, weedy species invasion, poor animal performance (low forage quantity and quality), visible soil loss, increased runoff, and impaired water quality in or adjacent to the pasture.


Business Planning and Profitability

piggy bank surrounded by coins

These resources can assist in understanding how management practices and economic models can be used to improve the viability of your grazing system.

Grazing Systems

Grass-fed Beef and Dairy

Business Planning Support

  • Describe your Goals and the Current State of the Farm
    • Document your goals & priorities, in clear and quantifiable terms. Then describe the current state of the farm by attempting to capture this moment in time​
    • Holistic Management International: To envision and realize healthy, resilient lands and thriving communities by serving people in the practice of Holistic Decision Making & Management
  • Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) Farm Viability: offers business planning and technical assistance to enterprises that keep Vermont's working landscape in production. These include: farm businesses of all sizes and sectors; food businesses that process, store, market, or distribute local agricultural products; and forest products businesses such as maple producers, consulting forestry firms, loggers, sawmills, craftspeople and wood manufacturers.
  • Intervale Business Planning Services: offers information, assistance, and encouragement to beginning and aspiring farmers in the state of Vermont through one-on-one coaching and business planning. Coaching sessions last from one to two hours; at the end, you’ll come away with a learning plan that includes prioritized learning areas, objectives, and steps to reach those objectives.


close-up of grass

Grazing infrastructure is a key component to improving grazing system on most farms. Utilizing permanent or temporary fencing to create a paddock system, ensuring all paddocks have access to water, and creating access to paddocks through roadways are all components of incorporating successful infrastructure.


Detailed description of fencing systems in managed grazing.

General Fence Supplies List:


  • Agri. Fencing, (802) 758-2513, Bridport, VT
  • All Around Fence Company,(207) 495-2300, Belgrade, ME
  • Bancroft Fencing,(207)743-8946, So. Paris, ME
  • Corner Rail Fence Co.,(802) 889-3736, Tunbridge, VT
  • Country Fencing,(802) 325-3196, Pawlet, VT
  • Doolan Fencing, (802) 436-3220, Barnet, VT
  • Eisner Fencing,(207) 632-3445  Waldoboro, ME
  • Fence Line LLC, (603) 313-8903, Alstead, NH
  • Fischer Farm Fence,(802) 463-3018, Springfield, VT
  • Flack Family Farm,(802) 933-7752, Enosburg, VT
  • Gallup Brook Fencing,(802) 644-8080, Enosburg Falls, VT
  • Grandview Fence,(802)238-1854, Addison, VT
  • Hawk Creek Co., (802)425-7157, Ferrisburgh, VT
  • Keith Hobday  (802) 758-2513, Bridport, VT
  • Homestead Fence Co., (802) 948-2244, Orwell, VT
  • Middlebury Fence Co., (866) 689-5041  New Haven, VT
  • N. Bradford Enterprises, (207) 327-1398, Bradford, ME
  • Jim Neil, 603) 542-2912  Cornish, NH
  • Sheldon Fencing,(802) 265-8156, Fair Haven, VT
  • Straight Line Fencing Co., (802) 948-2775, Orwell, VT
  • Thunder Basin Fence, (802) 782-0933, Cambridge, VT
  • Wellscroft Fence Systems,(603) 827-3018, Harrisville, NH
  • Wells Farm Systems, (802) 372-5570,South Hero, VT

* Please note that neither UVM Extension nor Vermont Pasture Network endorses one contractor over another, and that this list is for informational purposes only. For additional assistance, or to add yourself to this list, please Contact Us.

Watering Systems

Strategically located watering systems are important for achieving maximum use of a pasture in a managed grazing system.

General Water Supplies List:

* Please note that neither UVM Extension nor Vermont Pasture Network endorses one contractor over another, and that this list is for informational purposes only. For additional assistance, or to add yourself to this list, please Contact Us.

Shade and Shelter

Shade and shelter are essential parts of a good grazing plan and should be considered. Having a clean, dry area to get animals off pasture when it is too wet, too dry, or freezing and thawing is essential for their health and to maintain the health of your pastures. Access to shade must be considered in our changing climate.

  • Monitor and Manage Heat Stress
  • Square foot per animal required for shade structures
  • Bedded pack strucutres
  • Woodchip pads: Improved livestock holding area using woodchips, that could be an excellent solution for small-scale livestock produers in Northern New England seeking to protect pastures during sensitive times of the year.


Contract Grazing and Leasing Land

solar panels in a field

Contract (or Custom) Grazing is a livestock production system by which someone with grazing animals develops a contract with a landowner or a municipality to graze animals for a purpose all parties agree on. Below are several resources and introductory materials developed by UVM Extension and our partners to showcase how beneficial contract grazing can be for Vermont farmers and landowners. 

Grazing Invasives

  • Need Links

Leasing Land

  • VT Lank Link: created to help Vermont’s farm seekers and farm property holders find each other. For many new and established farmers, simply finding available land is a huge challenge. On the other side of the equation, more and more private, public and organizational landowners want to make land available for farming. They want farmers to find them. This site makes it easy for properties to be posted, and for farm seekers to search for them.  The site’s format is similar to for sale by owner sites or classified listings. Because Vermont Land Link is free, simple, state-wide, automated and constantly current, it can serve as a friendly portal for Vermont property holders and farmland seekers.

Land Leases Used in Contract Grazing (Examples)

  • Need Examples

Solar Grazing

With the proliferation of solar energy generation throughout Vermont, interest in on-farm solar generation has grown. For many communities, this has raised concerns about loss of valuable farm land and impacts to the visual landscape. Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission worked with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets and the Center's Pasture Program to come up with recommendations for how to balance the needs of community and farm-scale energy needs with a shared commitment to protecting agricultural lands.

The team met with farmers and planners to come up with a plan to guide land use planners, farmers, and agricultural service providers in their planning and decision-making. That guide is now available so that "local planners can protect primary agricultural soils (often referred to as "prime ag") and the working landscape as a matter of town policy by acknowledging and promoting on-farm solar and active agricultural use on the same land."


Land Management

a large field

Properly managed grazing lands is one of the most important ways farmers can reduce erosion and water pollution while diversifying income. The following resources were compiled to assist Vermont farmers in the management of thir grazing lands. 

Soil Health

We strongly feel that most livestock farms could benefit from at least some level of pasturing. This could reduce cost of production, help animal health, and improve the land. Our resources can help every farm move towards more pasture-based production, even for those who may not be able to go to a full pasture-based system. Begin by taking a look at a classic Extension resource, Managing Pasture as a Crop: A Guide to Good Grazing (PDF). More resources:

Nutrient Management and Planning

Nutrient Management for your pasture is essential to promoting productivity and minimizing negative envrionmental impacts. Click here for resources to help improve the nutrient quality of your pasture:

Forage Mgmt. / Research Trials

Each grazing team at UVM Extension conducts independently funded research on a variety of grazing and pasture topics. Visit each team's webpage to learn more via Who We Are to learn more.


"Home to more than 35,000 horses, Vermont has at least that many acres in horse pasture. Horse owners and equine operation managers are seeking information to guide their management of horse pasture, and this project set out to provide assistance, demonstrations, and resources."


Livestock Management

lots of sheep in a field

Grazing management involves a symbiotic relationship between pasture and grazing animals. Proper livestock management is just as crucial as developing sound land management techniques to develop effective grazing systems. The following resources can assist you in developing your livestock management strategy.

Pasture Information by Animal Species

Are you looking for specific recommendations for your grass-based operation, or looking to learn more about what's involved in getting your animals onto pasture? Take a look below for some of our recommendations and research regarding different livestock species.

Dairy Cattle

We know that supporting dairy farmers as they seek to protect both profitability and soil and water quality is key to a resilient farming future for Vermont. Here we have gathered resources that may be of special use for those raising dairy cattle in Vermont, and hope you'll let us know if you have any questions or would like to know more.


The demand for pork from pigs raised humanely and on pasture, continues to grow. Partnerships with Penn State and UNH Extension have helped the Center's team continue work on Swine that was begun with a grant from the Working Lands Enterprise Board and collaboration with NOFA-VT.

Our focus has been on supporting greater connection between existing experienced and new swine producers at all sizes and stages of growth; offering educational opportunities for producers to learn more about swine nutrition, health, housing, and value-added products; and developing further tools and options to help future expansion be successful.

In summer 2020, we were able to co-present a webinar series on Swine Reproduction, including these two presented with Dr. Elizabeth Hines from Penn State Extension.


Long before Vermont was famous for its cows, we were a sheep farming state.  Today, we still have a vibrant industry of farmers raising sheep (and their near relatives, goats) spread out through the state.  Our Pasture Program team is glad to help you find out how to improve your grazing operations for small ruminants too. Some helpful resources for you to browse on your own:



Vermont has many horse farmers who are seeking to make their operations more environmentally sustainable by improving their pasture management. Though many equine operations are small (and therefore exempt from Vermont's Required Agricultural Practices), we are glad to work with you on a grazing plan for your horses in order to have healthy animals, healthy soil and clean water.

Dairies (Organic and Conventional)

Over-Wintering: Bedded Pack Barns

Happy, healthy, profitable animals are the central goal of livestock farmers. Bedded pack housing can be a path to that goal.

Bedded pack is a strategy for providing for animal health and comfort and managing manure, during the winter months. It refers to accumulated bedding materials and manure under covered housing. The pack is then composted after winter ends and the animals are back on pasture, and helps build soil fertility.


Soil, Manure, and Forage Testing

sprout and soil

Unviersity of Vermont does soil and manure testing, but not forage testing. The following organizations do forage testing (and more!)

Forage Testing

Identify your Support System

Farming is hard work and on top of that can be isolating.  Where will you get support when you need it? It may be friends, through community groups, farmer networks, neighbors, faith communities, affinity groups or through agricultural support organizations. It is better to identify these anchors for yourself early, and cultivate those relationships so you can draw on them when they're needed.

Here are a few of the resources and organizations we're aware of, and we hope you'll let us know if we can help you find others that might be right in your situation:

Resources and Organizations

  • Farm First, an EAP-style service for farmers modeled on programs that many businesses offer for their employees. They're also at 1-877-493-6216 anytime day or night.
  • NOFA-VT's Farmer Services. (Call them at 802-434-4122 if  it's unclear what would most be helpful for you at the right time.)
  • Women's Agricultural Network (WAgN)
  • Northeast Farmers of Color Network (NEFOC)
  • Farm Crisis Center with links to services including suicide prevention help.