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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Beef Cow/calf Year-Round Grazing Systems

Authors
item Decker A M, - UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
item Rumsey, Theron
item Hammond A C, - ARS, BROOKSVILLE, FL
item Elsasser, Theodore
item Vough L R, - UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
item Clark A J, - UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND

Submitted to: Journal of Production Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 1995
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Feeding beef cows and their nursing calves throughout the winter without concentrate supplement and with minimal hay was studied for the Mid-Atlantic region. Two separate year-round pasture systems were established on two 50-Acre blocks. Fall accumulated tall fescue (80% endophyte infected)/legume swards supplied winter grazing for both. System A consisted of 17.7 acres of the fescue/legume mixture and 26.9 acres of an orchardgrass/legume mixture. System B consisted of 42.2 acres of the same fescue/legume mixture, 5.2 acres of bermudagrass, and 2.2 acres of bluegrass. After the last summer grazing of bermudagrass, Gramoxone was applied and a cereal rye/rape mixture was no-tilled and then grazed in early winter (early lactation and rebreeding period). Two uniform, 25-cow herds (mixed Angus-Hereford) were randomly assigned to the systems. Differences in animal performance between Systems A and B were relatively small. The use of a high-quality pasture, such as a rye/rape pasture, during early lactation and rebreeding would improve system A. Calf Creep feed in late winter did not appear necessary or economical. Results strongly suggest that savings can be realized through reduce feed costs and elimination of expensive hay storage and animal housing structures. A winter pasture with a small grove of evergreen trees can provide all of the winter protection needed in most cases. Less forage harvested and manure handling equipment will also be required.

Technical Abstract: Stockpiled tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Sherb.) with fertilizer N (FN applied when fall pasture accumulation is initiated has been widely studied and practice adopted by many producers. Little attention has been given, however, to substituting legumes in the sward to reduce the need for FN and provide higher quality. Fall calving produces animals large enough to help use excess spring pasturage but limited research has been concerned with cow and calf performance on fall saved winter pasture. Two research/demonstration, year-round beef cow/calf pasture systems were evaluated over 6-year period. Both systems used a tall fescue-red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) - ladino (T. repens L.) mixture for winter grazing. The primary summer pasture for system A was an orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) - red clover-white clover mixture. System B used bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylan (L.) Pers.). as primary summer pasture. After the last summer grazing, a rye (Secale cereale L.) - rape (Brassica rapa L.) mixture was no-tilled into the bermudagrass sward and was ration grazed during early lactation (late November - early January). Each cow/ calf herd was satisfactorily maintained over the 6-year period with limited winter hay feeding and no concentrate. Differences between systems were small for calf birth weight and winter cow weight losses. However, animal grazing unit days/acre, daily calf gains and weaning weights were higher for system B. More spring hay harvest and more winter hay feeding was required for system A. Most differences were associated with higher acreages of fall accumulated tall fescue mixture and the high quality rape-rye pasture during early lactation in system B.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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