Paddock Design Basics

Simple math shows us that the shortest amount of fencing needed in a pasture will be a result of making the paddocks as square as possible.

Paddock size will vary depending on pasture productivity and the lay of the land. Paddocks should follow the contour of the land to prevent issues from erosion.

Paddock size will vary depending on pasture productivity and the lay of the land. Paddocks should follow the contour of the land to prevent issues from erosion.

However, because Pennsylvania fields are not flat, we can expect paddocks to take on various shapes and sizes. So, we need to take into account not only the lay of the land, but also access to water sources and alleys to move livestock back to handling facilities or buildings.

Follow the contour of the land when making subdivisions so animals walk along a hill rather than up and down a hill to watering systems. This helps to prevent erosion issues when runoff follows the trail made by the animals following a regular path. Keep in mind that animals often prefer to graze level areas as compared to sloped areas and so could graze level areas more heavily than those on slopes.

A good rule of thumb is to use temporary fencing for several years to determine the best paddock size before installing more permanent subdivision fencing.

When setting up alleyways, be sure to make them wide enough to accommodate equipment for mowing as well as making hay during times when there is too much forage available.

Gates should be wide enough to allow machinery to pass through easily. Gates should also be place in corners where it is easier to move animals through to another paddock. Consider also which direction animals are likely to move through the system. Gates should be placed in the corner closest to the paddock where they are being moved into.

You may also want to fence shaded areas separately from sunny areas. During the hot summer months, livestock tend to congregate in the shaded areas and will leave larger amounts of manure behind as well as destroy some of the pasture plants growing in those areas.