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Limit Grazing Studied

Posted Dec. 1, 2003

Forage availability is frequently a limiting factor during the fall in winter annual grazing systems. Limit-grazing has the potential to stretch a high-quality forage resource until adequate forage is available in the spring. Little information is available evaluating the effectiveness of different limit-grazing practices. In this project, we are evaluating the effects of limit grazing and method of limit grazing on animal performance, forage utilization and grazing enterprise profitability by comparing the effectiveness of every-other-day winter annual grazing, daily restricted grazing intervals and ad-libitum grazing.

Once winter pasture becomes available for grazing, approximately Nov. 20, 240 calves are randomly divided into three different winter grazing treatment groups and replicated twice. One-third receive winter pasture full time, one-third receive winter pasture two to four hours per day and one-third receive winter pasture every other day for eight hours. Each of the three treatment groups are rotated through three pastures on a bi-weekly basis, and forage availability and quality is measured on a monthly basis. All cattle are offered full-feed bermudagrass hay (10 to 12 percent CP). Forage intake is measured for each group by weighing hay and estimating waste. The calves are weighed off pasture and shipped to the feedlot in late January or early February. Grazing performance is measured at the end of the winter grazing phase.

Results and Discussion
In the first year of this study, steers were weighed on pasture Dec. 2, 2002, and weighed off pasture Jan. 30, 2003. The full-time grazers gained 2.25 lbs./hd./day while the every day limit grazers gained 1.25 lbs./hd./day and the every-other-day limit grazers gained 0.91 lbs./hd./day. The every-other-day limit grazers appeared to be more stressed with their routine as they typically stood at the gate wanting to eat with the every day limit grazers.

Disclaimer for Demonstrations and Preliminary Research Results
Information reported from demonstrations is for illustration purposes only and should not be taken as conclusive evidence. Demonstrations are conducted in such a way that definitive statements about differences or similarities among factors or treatments cannot be made with any level of certainty. In a similar way, preliminary results from designed experiments are subject to conclusions that could differ dramatically from year to year or location to location. Therefore, information from demonstrations and all preliminary results should be viewed with a degree of caution.