Pasture & Forage Minute: Pasture lease considerations

Pasture & Forage Minute: Pasture lease considerations

Jerry Volesky, Extension Range & Forage Specialist, UNL Extension

As pasture grazing leases are getting finalized for the 2024 season, it is important to make sure that some of the key details are clear and in writing. 

Traditionally, pasture leases are for 5 or 6 months from April or May through October.  Specific starting and ending dates can be used, but there could be exceptions based on spring weather conditions or if there were drought conditions the previous year that might warrant delaying turn-out to allow some recovery of grasses. 

A lease clause that provides details on what would happen if drought occurs during the season is a must.  Most often, this is handled by reduced stocking rates or a shorter grazing period. Other situations that could affect the amount of pasture available includes severe hail, grasshoppers, or wildfire.  In fairness of course, pasture rent owed should also be adjusted accordingly if the grazing period is shortened.  Consider pricing leases based on grazing animal unit months (AUM’s) rather than a flat rate per acre or cow-calf pair.  This can make it easier when adjustments are made to the length of time grazing occurs.  In some cases, an abundance of pasture growth might result in extra grazing. 

Other pasture and grazing management details that could be part of a written lease agreement would include fence maintenance and repair, weed control, or any issues associated with the livestock water supply.  Some landowners might also have specific preferences in how grazing rotations are done through several pastures.

Start your communications early and make written agreements for fairness and equity.  A fillable lease form for pasture can be found online here.

More pasture lease information information is available here.

Listen to this and previous episodes of Pasture and Forage Minute here: