Forage Rotation Planner

Forage Rotation Planner

When grass isn’t enough to provide your deer nutrition expectations, crops and forages can fill nutrition gaps.  Planning your forage rotations can take a bit of work, so here’s a wall chart that might help. 

There are many forage options available for cropping and pasture renovation, in any given paddock up to five years planning ahead may be required, depending on the lifespan of the new forage and what may follow.

Failure to plan can lead to problems such as gaps in feed supply, reduced crop yields and/or crop failure.

Deer Industry New Zealand has teamed up with industry partners and specialists in the field to create a Forage Planner which can be used alongside advice from an agronomist to agree forage cultivars for your particular requirements. If you use contractors to get your forages in, this planner might help plan in advance to get timely service.

The forage planner is easy to use; simply follow the 3 steps from left to right in the red band at the top of the planner.

Step 1 - What have you got at the moment?

Start with some examples of why you might be considering a new crop or to renew what is already in the paddock, e.g. damaged pasture or fodder beet that is finished.

Step 2 – What do you need forages for?

This shows the forage type you require broken down into seasons or short term (2-5 years) or perennial (5-10+ years) options.

Summer and Winter forage type options are usually in the ground for 3-10 months to provide forage at key times, usually mid-late summer e.g. summer brassica crop or winter-early spring e.g. annual ryegrass or fodder beet.

Once you have identified which type of forage you require for the time of sowing; either spring or autumn and where you should start in year 1 you are then ready to go to step 3.

Step 3 – What are my planting options?

The Forage Planner does not contain an exhaustive list of options, but provides some examples of commonly used forages for deer.

Within the row you have chosen, head across the planner in time to the right. For forages with a finite lifespan, or where forage is only required for a season, the row will end with a stop sign. 

A stop sign indicates the end of that forage and requires returning to the start to choose a replacement. 

In some longer term options, a forage that is initially chosen can be oversown with additional forage to extend the productive lifespan of that paddock once it begins to thin out.  In these cases the row will not end with a stop sign and instead an arrow continuing to the right or to more options continuing to the right for drilling in or oversowing seed of another forage.

Some columns have an exclamation mark (!) at the beginning.  This means your forage choice may be susceptible to soil herbicide residues.  In this case, seek advice with regards previous herbicide use in that paddock causing residues that can potentially affect subsequent forage performance.  Soil testing may be required. 

There is a Paddock planner to accompany the forage planner and this is designed to allow you to build your own customised forage plan for your individual paddocks. Just fill in the boxes with the options set out on the first page to help you think through your rotation possibilities.

To find out more on forage options to assist with your deer enterprise and stock class see the Deer Facts folder and fact sheets on nutrition at

We recommend seeking advice from your local Agronomist before planting, they will be able to help you plan ahead for improved productivity.


Download an A4 version of the planner <<Download Here >>

Once you have worked out what to use, here's a handy Paddock Planner that can be used to record what is going where, when << Download Here >>

Forage Systems for Targeted Deer Production

Please see a link below to a presentation from Allister Moorhead and Glenn Judson, Senior Agronomists from Agricom for more information on Forage Systems for targeted deer production.

This was presented at the Deer Industry Conference in 2016 held in Dunedin. To download a pdf version of the presentation click << Download Here >>.

Video of the presentation of the above can be found below: