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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Performance and Economic Returns of Stocker Cattle on Tallgrass Prairie under Different Grazing Management Strategies

Authors
item Phillips, William
item Northup, Brian
item Mayeux Jr, Herman
item Daniel, John

Submitted to: Professional Animal Scientist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2003
Publication Date: August 1, 2003
Citation: Phillips, W.A., Northup, B.K., Mayeux, H.S., Daniel, J.A. 2003. Performance and economic returns of stocker cattle on tallgrass prairie under different grazing management strategies. Professional Animal Scientist. 19:416-423.

Interpretive Summary: Weight gains by stocker calves grazing warm-season grasses are lower in late summer than in early summer because forage digestibility and protein content decline during the last half of the summer grazing season. "Intensive early stocking" is an approach to grazing management that avoids this problem by grazing only during the first half of the summer with a stocking rate that is about twice that used over the entire summer grazing season. We compared intensive early stocking to season-long stocking on native prairie in Oklahoma, with and without a protein supplement provided during the second half of the season. Providing protein supplementation to the calves grazed season-long increased weight gains by 23 pounds per acre or 36% during dry years, but had no effect during wet years when forage quality remained high. Intensive early stocking provided 13% more gain per acre in wet years and 23 to 68% more gain per acre in dry years. Although intensive early stocking can increase productivity and provide some economic advantages, economic analyses indicated that it was not more profitable than season-long grazing with or without supplementation.

Technical Abstract: A 4-year study was conducted to determine performance of stocker calves on tallgrass prairie under three grazing management strategies. Grazing was initiated in June and pastures were grazed only during the summer months. Two of the pastures were grazed season-long. Calves in one of the season-long treatments were fed a protein supplement during the last half of the grazing season, while calves in the second season-long treatment were not supplemented (control group). The third pasture an intensive early stocking (IES) treatment, was grazed at twice the stocking rate as that used in the season-long pastures for the first half of the grazing season and rested for the second half. Individual stocker performance during the first half of the summer was similar among grazing treatments. Providing supplemental protein during the second half of the grazing season increased BW gain by 30 kg/ha during the last 40- d of the 80-d grazing season. Over the summer, IES stocker calves produced 24% more gain per ha than season-long stocked calves.Nonetheless, IES management was not more profitable than season-long grazing with or without protein supplementation. Key words: weight gain, supplementation, crude protein

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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