Plug in your numbers. See how much you can save.

The Heifer Grazing Compass is an Excel-based planning tool for anyone considering raising heifers on pasture. The tool is designed to help users predict and understand the cash flow and long-term financial outcomes associated with raising heifers on pasture. Dairy farmers can assess their options for raising heifers, and farmers outside of dairy can consider raising heifers on pasture as an enterprise.

Heifer Grazing Compass helps farmers answer:

  • Can my land support the dry matter demand of my heifer herd?
  • Is the new feeding plan sufficient for my heifers’ healthy development?
  • What are the establishment costs of a pasture system?
  • What is the operating expense and labor expense during the grazing season?
  • What are the financial implications of my current heifer-raising strategy?
  • How do the financial outcomes of the proposed pasture system compare to my existing strategy?
Two black and white cows looking directly at the camera with long green grass in the foreground

Using the compass demonstrates that raising heifers using managed grazing results in savings of 25% to more than 50% per head per day during the grazing season as opposed to confinement. Grazing heifers can also result in labor savings of 50% to 75% during grazing season.

The Heifer Grazing Compass has been created, formatted, and protected, so that it does not require advanced computer skills to use. However, if you are unfamiliar with Excel spreadsheets, we recommend learning how to navigate a spreadsheet and how to enter data prior to use of the tool.

The tool is free to access and use.

This tool was conceived and designed by Brad Barham, John Hendrickson, Connor Mulholland, and Jim Munsch for the University of Wisconsin as part of Grassland 2.0 and the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS). Questions or comments can be addressed to John Hendrickson at or Jim Munsch at

Explore the Possibilities Without the Risk

Regions where GrazeScape is currently available.

What is it?

GrazeScape is a free, web-based tool that can be used to evaluate the results of a potential change in management practices on one’s own land. It can be used to compare outcomes such as yield, erosion, nutrient loss, and costs between current practices and proposed practices. This customizable “what if” tool is designed to make timely and accurate predictions using information specific to the farmer’s land and the way it is managed.

Interested in trying a new management practice?

Compare environmental and economic consequences on your farm without the risk.

What kinds of questions does GrazeScape answer?

Questions about how a change in management might affect yield, erosion, nutrient loss, runoff, impact on insect populations, and production costs for a field or farm. For example:

  • How would soil erosion be affected if we added cover crops to this field of corn and beans? What if we tried no-till?
  • What kind of crop rotation and management is necessary to reduce the nitrate leaching on this particular field by at least 50%?
  • If we converted this field from a dairy rotation to pasture, would it produce enough forage to graze our replacement heifers?
  • How does the frequency of rotating my heifers through a pasture affect grass yield?
  • How many feet of fencing would I need to surround this field and graze my heifers? What would that infrastructure cost?

Who might use it?

  • A farmer interested in changing the management of a field to reduce environmental impact
  • A new grazier putting together a pasture plan
  • A service provider helping a farmer explore their options and determining environmental impact
  • Someone trying to estimate grass yield to enter into the Heifer Grazing Compass

How does it work?

Uses data from SnapPlus, Web Soil Survey, and newly developed applications to produce results specific to your operation.