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Successful Organic Grassland Conversion – Key Grazing Infrastructure

25 March 2024

An important part of any successful conversion to grassland is making sure that you have the appropriate infrastructure in place to support the new system. This article is intended to give you an overview of three of the most important considerations to make as a part of the conversion. Namely: tracks for your livestock, fencing, and water management. This guide also includes case studies from Outer Blair and Kildrochat.

Cow Tracks

Cows on a cow track

A well-constructed network of cow tracks is critical to successful grassland management because it reduces damage to paddocks and improves access in wet weather.


The layout of tracks should take into consideration the most appropriate route to the paddocks around existing farm landscape features while minimizing the distance that cows must walk to and from the parlour.  Sharp bends, steep inclines and bottle necks should be avoided on cow tracks as these will reduce cow flow and lead to potential lameness issues.


The ideal width for a cow track is 4m.  Appropriate drainage using either a camber of on-way incline and ensuring the track is built above the height of the field will increase the longevity of the track and prevent water pooling.


At Outer Blair and Kildrochat, Leo has chosen to use crushed “rotten rock” as a base layer and then top with recycled astro turf to improve cow comfort.  It is essential that vehicles (apart from a quad bike if used for gathering cows) are not allowed to travel on the track as these will damage the surface.

More detailed information on cow track construction is available at

Cow tracks | AHDB

Cow Track

Livestock Fencing

Good fencing is key to any grazing system, allowing effective stock control and giving peace of mind that cattle remain where they are meant to be.

Temporary electric fencing should be used to subdivide paddocks to manage grass growth and ensure target residuals are met.  It also allows flexibility for varying mob sizes at the start and end of the grazing season or when youngstock are also grazing the platform.  Practical advice on the use of electric fencing can be found at:

Leo has chosen to use an alternative to traditional fencing materials at Kildrochat instead using concrete posts, Clipex steel posts and X Fence wire netting.


This fencing system is guaranteed for 30 years and so is seen as a long term investment in farm infrastructure over traditional fencing materials which have a much shorter lifespan.

Electric Fencing: A Practical Guide | Information helping farmers in Scotland | Farm Advisory Service (

Water Supply


It is important that cows have access to fresh water while grazing.  A well-designed water system will ensure that all paddocks have an adequate water supply for the number of cows in the grazing herd.  The map above shows an example of a water system layout (Courtesy of Teagasc)

The following are the key considerations which should be borne in mind when designed a water system for the grazing platform:

Cow Water Intake60-110 litres/day dependent on weather conditions- typically 4 litres per litre of milk produced
Cow Drinking Speed14 litres per minute (3 gallons/min)
Cow drinking time30-50% water intake within 3 hours of milking
Trough sizeAllow 5-7 litres per cow
BallcockMedium pressure gives flow rate of 32 litres/min versus 8 litres/min with high pressure
Main pipe layoutRing/loop system preferable

Courtesy of Teagasc

When using borehole water, it is important to ensure that there is sufficient supply to meet peak demand.  A header tank or reservoir can be installed to create more capacity if supply is short.  Other common areas which can affect supply are pumping equipment, inadequate pipe size which reduces water pressure, using the wrong ballcock which cannot provide an adequate flow rate and does not prevent leaking when full and the troughs themselves which are either the wrong capacity for the number of cows or are sited in the wrong place.  Outdoor troughs should be cleaned regularly to maintain water quality.  For more detailed information visit Dairy-Farm-Infrastructure-Handbook-Moorepark2017-(V3).pdf (

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