January 13, 2016
Stockers are a margin driven business with flexibility of buying and selling calves when cattle prices and forage availability dictate. Because of this flexibility, stocker cattle are an excellent grazing management tool. When quantity of forage is decreased due to drought or overuse, remove animals from the pasture. In destocking, reduce herd size enough to bring the number of animals in balance with available forage. When forage conditions improve sufficiently to provide a grass surplus, stockers can be added.
“To ensure achievement of target weight gains, forage intake should be non-restricted at all times in a stocker cattle operation,” says Jane Parish, Mississippi State University Extension beef cattle specialist. “Forage quality as well as quantity is important when growing stocker cattle. It is very hard for young cattle to grow on hay or pastures that have become too mature and lost their nutritional quality. For this reason, managers must strive to provide a consistent supply of quality forage through a year-round pasture program.”
Practicing good grazing management strategies is usually very beneficial to a stocker operation. Appropriately managed pastureland is more productive for a longer period, has higher forage quality, and reduced forage waste. Stocking rate governs forage persistence and productivity which influences the amount of beef produced per acre.
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