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Stocking rate most important part of a grazing plan

Kansas State University Research and Extension KState Red Angus Grazing.jpg
Effective grazing management strategy will achieve two goals: maximize the production of the forage and manage how it is used by the cattle.

Many would agree that there is nothing like the taste and nutrient density of produce that comes straight from a home garden. In much the same way, beef cattle enjoy grazing lush early summer pastures.

The key, said beef cattle nutritionist Phillip Lancaster, during a recent Kansas State University Beef Cattle Institute converation on Cattle Chat, is to manage the grazing pastures appropriately.

"Stocking rate is the most important part of a grazing plan," Lancaster said. That rate will vary from year to year depending on pasture conditions that are influenced by drought among other things.

"An effective grazing management strategy will achieve two goals: maximize the production of the forage and manage how it is used by the cattle," said podcast guest Vaughn Holder, and ruminant research director for Alltech. "If you go to the extremes in either direction, you will not end up achieving the maximum outcome."

Any good plan will have contingencies, agreed the experts.

"A grazing plan will encompass a lot of strategies from pasture rotation to watershed management," Lancaster said.

Regarding stocking rate, Lancaster advises producers err on the conservative side to avoid overgrazing and damaging the grass.

"It is a lot bigger problem to run out of grass in a less productive year than to have some extra stockpiled in a good grazing year," Lancaster said.

If grasses are maintaining their production well, Lancaster said producers will be able to extend their grazing season longer into the fall.

"If a producer can carry the cattle on pastures into the early winter without having to feed hay and supplement, they can make money by reducing the winter feed bill," Lancaster said.

Source: Kansas State University Research and Extension, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

TAGS: Nutrition
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