Animal Units (Individuals)

Calculate stocking units to suit your operation

Updated over a week ago

This article outlines how to:

  • Set different methods of calculating stocking loads

  • Create an animal load record to apply unique values to livestock

What is an Animal Unit?

An animal unit rating is an animal’s energy demand relative to that of the defined standard animal. Energy demand is largely a proxy for dry matter intake, i.e. how much pasture an animal eats.

Animal units are a way of comparing animals of different classes and species so they can be expressed in a standard format. The most common animal units are an AE (Adult Equivalent) for cattle and DSE (Dry Sheep Equivalent) for sheep.

Animal Units can be used for property valuations, business analysis, enterprise analysis, determining carrying capacity, feed budgeting, etc.

Therefor, they need to be calculated accurately and consistently for them to be useful in establishing accurate information to be used in any of the above situations.

Animal units are also primarily used to record your stocking rates and grazing load on pasture. These unit systems differ around the world. You can pick the most appropriate unit system for your property based on your current location or pick a different unit system.

Calculation Methods

We have three different ways to calculate stocking loads and units:

  • By age class using MLA standard values

  • Using the animal’s body weight (live or projected)

  • Using the expected feed consumption as a percentage of body weight

When you create your account we set your default stocking rate to calculate by age class. Once you have recorded at least one weight for your livestock, you may consider selecting one of the alternate options above as the default calculation.

To change your default calculation method, go to Account > Farm Management > Edit > Settings and select Animal Units.

In the Animal units section, choose from the drop down menu the method of calculation. This will then be applied to all livestock on the farm moving forward and and retrospectively. If you have more than one farm, you’ll need to adjust the settings on each of them.

Age Class Method

This default uses the MLA standard values to calculate an average stocking rate for your livestock, based on the animal unit you have selected.

If you want to edit these values and add your own, simply click into the text box and enter a new value. Note, you can apply a 0 rating to animals that may be off farm on adjistment or for lambs/calves at foot with their dams.

Animal Body Weight Method

This method uses the animals last recorded weight or the projected weight. We assume an animal requires 7.6MJ/day per 45kg of body weight.

Feed Consumption Method

Feed consumption is calculated using a body weight percentage. We assume that each kg of feed provides 7.6MJ of energy. Note that in future updates we will aim to allow varied energy levels for different pasture types.

Animal Load Record

You can use the animal load record to override the farm default you have set, for an individual or a group of animals. This might make sense if you're running multiple enterprises on the same farm.

For example, you may only weigh your breeding animals once a year so the default, industry averages make sense, but for your trade stock you may be tracking daily gains very closely, so the projected weight will be useful to calculate a more precise value.

You can do this by using the Animal Load record to change the way stocking rate is calculated. In addition to the age class default, there are three options:

Animal Body Weight

Feed Consumption

Fixed Value

If you have updated the animal load value for an animal previously and it is no longer relevant, you can return the animal to use the farm settings default by selecting Use Farm Settings when completing the Animal Load record.

The previous selected application will continue to apply up until the date on the ‘Use Farm Settings’ record.

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