Evaluating and Comparing Beef Cattle Grazing Systems

Final report for FNC93-032

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 1993: $950.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1995
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $4,050.00
Grant Recipient: Don Fox Farm
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Don Fox
Don Fox Farm
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Project Information

Description of operation:

The farm is a combination crop and livestock operation. The soils are upland and some are highly erodible. Ridge-Till and No-Till cropping has been practiced for a number of years. However, compliance with soil loss regulations and the desire to develop a larger livestock enterprise requires the evaluation of intensive grazing system. The development of the system will reduce the need to purchase additional new equipment and reduce the need to make purchase of outside resources to support the operation. Labor savings from the hauling of water is a major factor that will allow the adoption of the grazing system to improve the sustainability of the farm operation.


Economic evaluation and practical performance evaluation of water distribution systems using underground pipe with risers and portable water tanks is critical to establishment of high intensive rotational grazing systems. Acceptance of the grant would provide a water distribution system for the continual development of high intensity rotational grazing systems. One year of daily move grazing system was accomplished during 1992. Water was hauled to the cattle during the first year. However, labor and wet soil conditions limit the utilization of this system during some parts of the grazing season. The development of an underground water distribution system would enhance the management and production from the system. Water distribution is one of the major restraints to the adoption of more intensive grazing systems in the area. The move to a more sustainable and productive agricultural system will reduce the dependence on purchased inputs such as feed, chemical fertilizer and seed.


Water availability and distribution systems are the most limiting factor to highly productive grassland grazing systems. The installation and evaluation of this type of system is critical to making many of the grassland acres profitable with a very sustainable grass grazing system. The installation of a water distribution system is one of the first major steps in the establishment of a grazing system that will improve the quality and production from the grasslands. The system, if effective, will be the first part of a grazing system that will later be enlarged to include some additional acres that will be coming out of the CRP program

Project Objectives:

The grant will provide the funding for the purchase of materials for the development of the water distribution system. The water system will be supplied from a water well located in an existing building site. The water system will eliminate the labor requirement of hauling water to each paddock as cattle are moved. Wet weather also restricts the hauling of water during muddy conditions. Cattle trailing and development of roads would also be eliminated.


Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

The site and project, research efforts, and educational efforts will be supported by Robert Stritzke, Extension Agent in Jefferson County and the local Soil Conservation Service. Collection of cost and production data will be evaluated and used for local programs, producer tours and other education programs.

Slide sets and video tape programs on the design, installation and use of the water system will be developed. These audio visual materials will be utilized to educate other producers about this alternative for water development systems for livestock production.

educational efforts will be coordinated with Robert Stritzke, Extension Agent. His efforts have included prescribed burning of grasslands, rotational grazing systems, fencing systems, and water development and alternatives for CRP in the future. The site will be used for demonstration and research efforts to help other producers learn about and evaluate various alternative grazing systems that can be much more sustainable than their current systems. These systems provide the opportunity for producers to lower production costs by reducing the amount of purchased feed and equipment that is associated with livestock systems that require large outlays of capital for land and equipment for harvested feed or limited grazing on continuous systems.

Educational efforts will include newsletters, tours, field days and meetings and workshops. This grant, if supported, will work into long term educational efforts in sustainable grassland livestock systems. Producers will learn how to lower costs and increase the profits from their livestock operations.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.