Pasture-Based Beef Finishing Systems

Final Report for LNC94-076

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1994: $60,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1997
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $97,566.00
ACE Funds: $51,817.00
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Fredric Martz
University of Missouri
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Project Information

Summary:

[Note to online version: The report for this project includes tables that could not be included here. The regional SARE office will mail a hard copy of the entire report at your request. Just contact North Central SARE at (402) 472-7081 or ncrsare@unl.edu.]

Objectives:

1. Develop profitable systems for pasture-finishing beef cattle of consistent and acceptable carcass quality.

2. Evaluate an intensive pasture-based beef finishing system in terms of animal waste dispersion.

3. Demonstrate in a pilot commercial-sized trial, the feasibility of marketing pasture-finished beef using an integrated alliance model.

Methods: This study was designed to research the finishing of beef cattle on pasture without the use of a confinement feedlot. Such a finishing system has the potential of economizing the cost of gains and disperses the animal waste over a broad pasture area where it will be recycled into the ecosystem and is utilized as soil nutrients to grow more pasture and control water runoff. Varying numbers of 700 to 800 lb crossbred steers were randomly allocated according to appropriate stocking rates to five experimental treatments. Treatments consisted of pasture plus grain supplement to supply different proportions of the steers’ daily ration. Treatments were: 0%, 25%, 50%, and 75% supplement and FL, a conventional feedlot treatment of a self-fed feedlot ration containing 10% ground hay with no pasture. Each intensively managed pasture was eight acres grazed from the last week of April to early November. Samples of beef from each steer was analyzed in a sensory laboratory for tenderness and eating quality.

Results: Aging beef from pasture-based finished steers in vacuum packages for three weeks resulted in beef with equal tenderness and eating quality to feedlot finished beef. The 75% supplement group was more like the feedlot finished beef than the 0 supplemented group. The cost of gain for steers finished on pasture alone was as low as $27 per cwt compared to about $60 per cwt for feedlot finished steers. Finishing cattle on pasture appears to be a profitable, value-added practice of producing beef. Nutrient levels (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and organic matter) did not decrease during the 2-year period of this study in the 0 supplemented pastures and increased only small amounts in the supplemented pastures. Pasture finishing appears to cycle nutrients to the soil in moderate amounts to enrich the soil and augment enhanced pasture production on low to medium fertility soils. Farm demonstrations illustrated that cattle can be finished on pasture but that marketing in the conventional market channels is a problem because of a stigma against pasture finished beef that results in price discounts.

Steers gained more rapidly with each increment of grain supplement fed, which resulted in the 0 grain group having the least finish and the feedlot group having the most finish. Ninety percent of the feedlot steers graded choice, whereas 70% of the 0 grain supplemented group graded standard and only 30% graded select. The low grades for the 0 and 25% groups of steers were because they were about 100 lbs lighter in weight at slaughter than the FL and the 75% steers. Had these steers been fed an additional 30 to 45 days, they would have been of equal finish (we have finished other steers in such systems to show this). The steers were removed from pasture because of the ending of the pasture season and a major focus of this study was eating quality of the beef. We did not want to affect flavor by some other type of ration.

Introduction:

This project was a two-year study. The objectives of the study have been accomplished. Sensory evaluation of the harvested beef and carcass quality data were collected and this part of the project was added and funded by the Missouri Agriculture Experiment Station. All work on the project has been completed except publication of the work in scientific journals. We are currently working on these publications to add credibility to the work and to sustainable agriculture concepts.

The study used home raised steers that were either Hereford X Gelbvieh (HG), HG X Angus, or >3/4 Angus. Spring born calves were weaned in late October, grazed tall fescue stockpile until January 1, then wintered on large bales of mixed grass-legume hay and 5 lb daily of a grain mix (1/3 corn gluten feed and 2/3 cracked corn) until turn-out in late April. Steers gained about 1 lb per day during winter and went to pasture weighing 730 to 750 pounds.

Pasture treatments were grain feeding levels to equal 0%, 25%, 50%, and 75% of the steer’s nutrient needs with the remaining nutrients coming from pasture. A fifth treatment consisted of steers assigned to a conventional feedlot finishing program. Each treatment had two replications. The number of steers per pasture replication was 8, 10, 12, and 14, with 8 acres per replication. The base stocking rate in the zero grain system (1 steer/A) was consistent with previous experience on similar pastures at the Forage Systems Research Center.

Pastures were mixed cool season grass-legume species with about 20% legume in most pastures. Some pastures were predominantly tall fescue with an endophyte infection level of about 90%. Steers were moved to new pasture every 1 to 3 days depending on the season and need of the system. Each pasture treatment group was assigned to a grazing cell with six permanent paddocks. Steers were allocated about 1/3 of a paddock each day during Phase I and 1/6 paddock during Phase II. Steers had water in each paddock.

Steers gained more rapidly with each increment of grain supplement fed, which resulted in the 0 grain group having the least finish and the feedlot group having the most finish. Ninety percent of the feedlot steers graded choice, whereas 70% of the 0 grain supplemented group graded standard and only 30% graded select. The low grades for the 0 and 25% groups of steers were because they were about 100 lbs lighter in weight at slaughter than the FL and the 75% steers. Had the 0 and 25% supplemented steers been fed an additional 45 to 60 days, they would have been of equal finish (we have finished other steers in such systems to show this). The steers were removed from pasture because of the ending of the pasture season and a major focus of this study was eating quality of the beef. We did not want to affect flavor by some other type of ration.

Aging beef from pasture-based finished steers in vacuum packages for three weeks resulted in beef with equal tenderness and eating quality to feedlot finished beef. The 75% supplement group was more like the feedlot finished beef than the 0 supplemented group. The cost of gain for steers finished on pasture alone was as low as $27 per cwt compared to about $60 per cwt for feedlot finished steers. Finishing cattle on pasture appears to be a profitable, value-added practice of producing beef. Nutrient levels (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnisium, and organic matter) did not decrease during the two-year period of this study in the 0 supplemented pastures and increased only small amounts in the supplemented pastures. Pasture finishing appears to cycle nutrients to the soil in moderate amounts to enrich the soil and augment enhanced pasture production on low to medium fertility soils. Farm demonstrations illustrated that cattle can be finished on pasture but that marketing in the conventional market channels is a problem because of a stigma against pasture finished beef that results in price discounts.

Project Objectives:

1. Develop profitable systems for pasture-finishing beef cattle of consistent and acceptable carcass quality.

2. Evaluate an intensive pasture-based beef finishing system in terms of animal waste dispersion.

3. Demonstrate the feasibility of marketing pasture-finished beef using an integrated alliance model in a pilot commercial-sized trial.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Fred Martz
  • Dennis McDonald

Research

Materials and methods:

The study used home raised steers that were either Hereford X Gelbvieh (HG), HG X Angus, or >3/4 Angus. Spring born calves were weaned in late October, grazed tall fescue stockpile until January 1, then wintered on large bales of mixed grass-legume hay and 5 lb daily of a grain mix (1/3 corn gluten feed and 2/3 cracked corn) until turn-out in late April. Steers gained about 1 lb per day during winter and went to pasture weighing 730 to 750 pounds.

Pasture treatments were grain feeding levels to equal 0%, 25%, 50%, and 75% of the steers’ nutrient needs with the remaining nutrients coming from pasture (Figure 1). A fifth treatment consisted of steers assigned to a conventional feedlot finishing program. Each treatment had two replications. The number of steers per pasture replication was 8, 10, 12, and 14, with eight acres per replication. The base stocking rate (1 steer/A) in the zero grain system was consistent with previous experience on similar pastures at the Forage Systems Research Center.

Pastures were mixed cool season grass-legume species with about 20% legume in most pastures. Some pastures were predominantly tall fescue with an endophyte infection level of about 90%. Steers were moved to new pasture every one to three days depending on the season and need of the system. Each pasture treatment group was assigned to a grazing cell with six permanent paddocks. Steers were allocated about 1/3 of a paddock each day during Phase I and 1/6 paddock during Phase II. Steers had water in each paddock.

Cattle measurements: The experimental design for the pasture layout is shown in Figure 1. The number of steers per treatment in the zero grain system was based on previous experience with stocking rate on similar pastures at the Forage Systems Research Center. The pastured steers used six paddocks (Fig. 1), which were subdivided by using electrified polytape to allocate a new pasture each time the steers were moved. Steers were moved every day during phase I and phase II. Water was supplied in each subpaddock to create more even grazing over the entire main paddock.

Steers from the feedlot treatment were harvested September 28, 1995 and September 27, 1996, and cattle from the pasture treatments were harvested November 4, 1995 and November 8 and 15, 1996. The goal was to slaughter cattle when backfat was .3 to .4 inches but the pasture based cattle were out of pasture so they were killed before they reached target finish weight. The major reason for this approach was to be able to clearly evaluate the flavor of the resulting meat directly from pasture feeding.

Tenderness, meat flavor and fat color are the most frequent criticisms of pasture finished beef. The hypothesis for this study was that feeding grain supplement on pasture will dilute out any off flavor due to the pasture and the resulting meat will be comparable to grain finished beef. After we were awarded this grant, we were given additional funds from the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station to perform sensory tests on meat samples from the cattle carcasses produced from this trial. Therefore, we wanted to slaughter directly off pasture and chose not to use a short feedlot finishing period to reach our target finish.

Research results and discussion:

The summer pasture season was divided into two phases because the gains were not as good as expected early in the grazing period (Table 2 and 8). During the 1995 summer period there was only .25 lb ADG difference between treatments 0% and 75% grain supplementation. In 1996 this difference was 1 lb ADG, which is in line with expectations. We again obtained lower then expected gains early in the 1996 grazing season and as a result added soybean hulls to the supplementation mixture in phase II of 1996 to prevent acidosis and promote appetite. We also increased the supplementation levels to increase the total energy intake of the steers. Also the steers were given a fresh paddock of pasture daily to promote pasture intake. These changes seemed to be successful because the steers had improved appetites in phase II and the ADG’s were improved (Table 8). Phase I was approximately100 days in length and phase II was approximately 75 days.

The gain response of cattle being supplemented on pasture is an interaction of pasture DM available, supplementation leve, and stocking rate. During these trial periods we did not get the expected gains of the steers as would be expected from the amount of energy and other nutrients being consumed by the cattle. The lack of gain from the 50% and 75% grain levels may have been due to the steers’ fescue pastures being 90% infected with endophyte. Another reason for depressed gains may have been the use of relatively high levels of corn gluten feed in the supplement mixtures and the resulting high level of rumen degradable protein consumed by the cattle.

Tables 3 and 9 contain the average values for final live weight, and carcass weight of the steers as well as the dressing percent. As carcass weight increased, the dressing percentage increased because of the higher level of finish. It is well known that more highly finished cattle have higher dressing percentages than lean cattle. In the marketplace, the steers with the small carcasses were discounted more than $20 cwt of hanging weight.

The carcass quality measurements are shown in Tables 4 and 10. In general, all quality measures increased as grain level increased and trend of change with increased grain supplement feeding were similar for both 1995 and 1996. Slightly over 90% of the carcasses in the feedlot group graded choice, whereas 14 of 16 steers on the 0% supplement treatment graded Standard with 2 grading Select. In the market the Standard carcasses were discounted severely so that there value was $220 less than the feedlot steers. With as little as 45 days in the feedlot or full grain feeding on pasture, these cattle would have probably graded similar to the feedlot group and the carcass value would have also been similar. We can report this with confidence because we have done it with other groups of cattle.

Fat color was also evaluated by giving each carcass a subjective visual score of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lightest color, as it hung in the cooler. Pasture finished cattle have been reported to have yellow, undesirable fat. The fat of the cattle on this study did not have yellow fat (Table 4).

Profit and loss values have been calculated (Table 14). Cost of gain for the pasture treatment and 0% supplement level was lower than the treatments where grain supplement was used. One of our goals was to produce finished cattle from pasture with as little as 1500 to 2000 lb of grain. The findings of this study indicate that such a goal is realistic. Costs of finishing beef in these systems would depend upon the cost of grain and pasture. The values in Table 4 indicate that cattle can be finished for from $35 to $45 per cwt weight of gain in these systems when grain prices are relatively moderate These costs of gain would be very competitive.

Short strip loins were taken from six steer carcasses from each replication (a total 48 loins) and were frozen. These KC strip steaks were subjected to sensory (both descriptive and acceptability) tests, tenderness tests, and biochemical flavor analysis (Table 5,6,11). These tests have given much needed information about the seriousness of off flavors in pasture finished beef and the potential for preventing any problems by using grain supplementation.

Beef Acceptability Comparisons: We conducted three major acceptance comparisons (tabular data not included in this report) where three strip loins were cooked in similar conditions. The three treatments used have been Feedlot, 75% grain, and 0% grain. These cooked meats are served to people in a banquet setting and they are asked to rank their preferences. The comparisons involved 147 people. The respective average ranking scores were 1.82, 2.06, and1.98, which indicated that these meats were all acceptable and people could not tell the difference between treatments. These sensory evaluation groups were our advisory board and groups of grass farmers. These sensory evaluations were very popular as well as educational.

Sensory analysis of beef: Forty-eight strip loins of beef were analyzed for sensory descriptive analysis and sensory acceptance analysis (Table 5 and Appendix 2 and 3). The following are some summary statements from the report.

“Although there were significant differences among the steaks in the Consumer study, all of the steaks were rated at or above “Neither like nor dislike” on the 9-point hedonic scale, thus on average, none of the steaks were disliked. Differences were found among the categories in both the descriptive analysis and the consumer acceptance analysis. When considering the results from both studies, the information leads to the conclusion than some grass feeding of beef may be possible without detrimentally affecting steak quality. Since several of the significant descriptive analysis attributes were textural, it would also be important to consider other factors contributing to steak texture, such as pre- and post-slaughter conditions. Some data for sensory and tenderness comparisons among the treatments are presented in Table 5 and for analysis of chemical compounds are presented in Table 6. These data indicate that a lack of tenderness is the major shortcoming of pasture finished beef.

In 1996 a comparison was conducted to determine the effect on tenderness of aging the beef in vacuum packed cold storage for 1, 3, and 5 weeks (appendix 3). We found that aging the beef for 3 weeks resulted in tenderness comparable to feedlot finishing. Since beef can be vacuum packaged and shipped in boxes, it is very feasible that this process could be incorporated into conventional processing and marketing systems.

Pasture measurements: Clipped quadrant samples of pasture were taken before and after paddocks were grazed to measure pasture forage available and forage disappearance. Pastures were intensively managed, cool-season grass-legume pastures as indicated by the stand counts that were collected in both 1995 and 1996. Forage voluntary intake and forage dry matter available are presented in Table 7. Forage dry matter intake improved through the season, with crude protein content increasing and acid detergent fiber (ADF) content decreasing (American Forage and Grassland Proceedings, 1996, appendix 4, publications). Forage intake decreased at an average rate of 1 lb for each pound of grain fed. Observed average daily gains were consistent with predicted ADG based on forage plus grain intake levels. Forage quality tended to increase throughout the grazing season on all treatments. Forage availability at the beginning of each rotation remained near constant or slightly increased for the 0% and 25% grain groups, while availability tended to decrease slightly through the season for the steers receiving 50% and 75% grain levels. It appears that forage availability was more likely to limit steer performance than would forage quality on these mixed cool-season grass-legume pastures.

Soil measurements: Two paddocks in each treatment of each replication were laid off in grids marked by stakes in the ground. Each treatment within a replication of pasture paddocks had two gridded pastures for the collection of random soil samples. Soil samples were collected in spring 1995, spring 1996, and spring 1997 for analysis of soil nutrients – Phosphate, Potassium, pH, Neutralizable Acidity, Calcium, Organic Matter, and Magnesium. A summary of these data is shown in Table 13. Changes are shown for the two-year period of this study. Calcium increased with supplemental feeding in the upper three inches of soil but pH was not affected. This lack of change in pH may be due to the slowness with which calcium is ionized and affects pH over time. Organic matter, phosphorus, and potassium tended to increase at moderate levels in the upper six inches of soil during the 2-year study with the higher supplement feeding levels. On poor to moderate fertility soils, finishing cattle would be expected to benefit soil fertility levels and subsequent pasture production.

Research conclusions:

Results from this study have the potential to add value to the grassland resource in Missouri and the region through marketing finished cattle. At the same time a segment of the cattle finishing program would be made more extensive and facilitate the return of animal waste back to the pastures reducing the potential of point source pollution from a confinement facility.

Pasture finishing resulted in the least costly gains with some gains costing as little as $27 per cwt. Because of lighter weights and less finish, pasture finished carcasses were not graded as high in quality as the feedlot finished carcasses and thus were less valuable on the current conventional market. To be profitable, pasture finished carcasses will either need to be marketed to a niche clientele or be finished to a quality grade to avoid discounts.

Cattle were finished on pasture using a 75% grain intake (3479 lb total grain for the finishing period), which had about .2 inches backfat and graded select on average. Although this grade was lower than the feedlot group, the carcasses were of comparable eating quality. Taste and tenderness tests indicated that the eating quality of the beef from the 75% treatment group was more like the feed lot finished group. This treatment produced beef with some degree of finish and circumvented the use of the conventional feedlot, thus demonstrating the use of an extensive system of finishing cattle. Aging the beef for three weeks in vacuum packages resulted in beef with comparable tenderness and flavor as beef from feedlot finished cattle.

The cattle from this trial were moved to slaughter in semi-trailer loads in late September and early November. They were slaughtered in a commercial plant, and a good working relationship was developed with the plant owner and manager in the process. This activity demonstrates the feasibility of such a marketing system.

New hypotheses:

We have detected a number of management procedures needed to finish beef while conducting this project. For good performance, cattle probably need new, fresh pasture each day. The grain supplement probably needs to contain some highly digestible fiber. Water needs to be located in each paddock to facilitate more efficient grazing. The feeding of a small amount of hay to supplemented cattle on pasture appears to slow the rate of passage of the ration through the digestive tract and increase the gain of the cattle. The gain performance of cattle is a function of pasture forage available, grain supplemental levels, and grazing management. The results of this study will enable us to establish these relationships to optimize animal performance.

Economic Analysis

Economic analysis is ongoing. Dr. Kevin Moore, Agricultural Economist, is the co-investigator for this aspect of the project. Several economic scenarios were compared in the January issue of the Forage Systems Update (FSRC newsletter), which is appended to this report. These scenarios resulted in losses of as high as $208 per animal and profits as high as $32 per animal. One reason for the large losses for some of the pasture finishing scenarios was the large discounts in the conventional marketing channels due to the lack of finish for the pasture finished cattle. Seventy-five percent of the steers on the 0% grain group graded standard carcass grade, and were discounted $22 per cwt of carcass. In a niche market where pasture finished beef can be sold for a premium, the pasture finished cattle would make profits of more than $100 per head. The pasture finished steers had light carcasses because of less finish and low dressing percentage. Had these steers been placed on a short feed of grain and appropriately finished for the conventional trade, they would have returned a profit of $32 per steer. They were not placed on any grain feeding because we wanted to test the sensory qualities of the meat and test the meat for off flavors due to a grass diet. Any alternative diets would have made this testing impossible. There are two methods currently available to market pasture finished beef – in niche markets where the purchaser will pay full value of the beef (possibly even a premium) or use a short grain finishing period at the end of grazing to enable the cattle to meet current conventional grading standards to bring the higher prices paid for select and choice carcasses.

Farmer Adoption

The activities of this project included three farm demonstrations. Two of the three were completed.

1) Martin Turner, Elmer, Missouri finished 40 steers on pasture. Because of high grain prices in the early and mid summer of 1996, the producer demonstrations were allowed to use only pasture with no grain supplementation until August. The steers gained 1.4 lb/day early in the grazing season on pasture alone, 2.3 lb/day the first part of the supplemental period and 2.8 lb/day during the final finishing period. Martin started his grain supplementation the first week of August. The steers finished at weights of 1,150 to 1,200 lbs. Cattle were sorted and sold as they reached finish weight. Some of the steers that were sold early lacked finish but cattle sold later were finished and sold for competitive prices. On average the cattle sold for $65 per cwt compared to prices at the time of $68 to$70 per cwt. These cattle made a small profit in spite of high grain prices and only average selling prices. In this case, for a relatively small operation, the best market seemed to be selling live animals at a local auction.

2) Kevin Martz, Columbia, Missouri is finishing seven head of steers on pasture. These steers were forward grazed ahead of cow and calf pairs from May 1, 1996 to October 1, 1996. The steers gained 1.8 lbs/day during that period. From October 1 to December 1, the steers were grazed on fall pasture and fed 10 lb/head grain supplement daily. The steers were also fed 2 lb of long hay daily. Gains have been 2.5 lbs/day. The steers were full fed grain from January 3 to Mid-February and were sold as all-natural freezer beef to people in the local area at a selling price of $1.80 per lb of processed beef. Profit for these steers was about $80 per steer.

3) John Wood, Monticello, Missouri began a demonstration the first week of June 1996 with 120 head of steers grazing eastern gamma grass. His plan was to graze the gamma grass until September and then finish the steers with a short feed in his feed lot. However, he got an opportunity to move the steers to a western feedlot early and did so in late July because of fears of price changes. Steers gained 1.75 lb per day while grazing the gamma grass for a period of 80 days.

Finishing cattle on pasture has not developed to a point of evaluating adoption and impact on farms. Our research and demonstrations has shown the great potential for pasture based finishing of beef and the value added benefits of such finishing systems. Based upon our research we can now make recommendations for profitable finishing of cattle on pasture.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

Martz, F. A., V. G. Tate, and J. R. Gerrish. 1996. Performance of steers finished on pasture and four levels of grain supplementation. Proceedings of American Forage and Grassland Council, P.O. Box 94, Georgetown, TX 78627.

Gerrish, J. R., F. A. Martz, and V. G. Tate. 1996. Sward characteristics of beef finishing pastures. Proceedings of American Forage and Grassland Council, P. O. Box 94, Georgetown, TX. 78627.

V. G. Tate, J. R. Gerrish and Martz, F. A. 1997. Impact of Pasture Finishing Beef cattle on the Soil Fertility of Intensively Managed Pastures. Proceedings of American Forage and Grassland Council, P.O. Box 94, Georgetown, TX 78627.

Martz, F. A., H. Heymann, V. G. Tate, A. Clarke, and, J. R. Gerrish. 1997. Quality of Beef From Pasture Finished Cattle. Proceedings of American Forage and Grassland Council, P.O. Box 94, Georgetown, TX 78677.

Martz, F. A., J. R. Gerrish, V. G. Tate. 1996. Forage Systems Update. Forage Systems Research Center. Linneus, MO. 64653. 5:no. 1, pp 2-5.

Progressive Farmer magazine. 1995. Should we be grain feeding all this beef. Nov.

Missouri Ruralist magazine. 1996. A flavor of grass. May.

Beef. 1996. All the way on grass. June.

Major speaking presentations:

Great Lakes Grazing Conference. Pasture- based beef finishing. Battle Creek MI. Feb. 1996. Attendance: 450

Maryland Cattlemans Meeting. Pasture – based beef finishing. Hagerstown, Maryland. March 1996. Attendance: 300

Kansas Heartland Round-up. Pasture – based beef finishing. Manhattan, Kansas. Dec. 1996. Attendance: 300

Pasture Day. Pasture – based beef finishing. FSRC, Linneus, MO. June 1996. Attendance: 300

Grazing Schools. Pasture – based beef finishing. FSRC, Linneus, MO. May, June, August, Oct. 1996. Attencance: 240

Sustainable Beef Workshop. Pasture – beef finishing and marketing. FSRC, Linneus, MO. in cooperation with ATTRA. Oct. 1996. Attendance: 40

Kansas Heartland Cluster Group. Edgerton, Kansas. Attendance: 14

Green Hills Farm Project, Spring Seminar, North Central Missouri College, Trenton, Missouri. Attendance: 80

American Forage & Grassland Conference, British Columbia, Canada. Attendance: 120

Forage-livestock Seminar, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Attendance: 45

Iowa Forage & Grassland Conference, DesMoines, Iowa. Attendance: 110

Missouri Beef Industry Council, Jefferson, Missouri. Attendance: 25

Kansas Heartland Round-up, Manhattan, Kansas. Attendance: 75

Vermont Cattlemen’s Association, Burlington, Vermont. Attendance: 65

Sustainable Beef Workshop, Springfield, Tennessee. Attendance: 45

Sustainable Agri. Workshop, Novelty, Missouri. Attendance: 80

Grazing Schools, Linneus, Missouri. 4 in 1997 with total attendance: 240

Project Outcomes

Recommendations:

Areas needing additional study

We are very confident that cattle can be finished on pasture and that the system can be cost effective as well as environmentally friendly.

Develop innovative marketing systems for pasture finished beef.

Determine the most appropriate type of cattle for pasture finishing.

Determine the most appropriate plant species for pasture finishing.

Determine most appropriate grain supplement formulation and amount for pasture finishing including level of fiber, protein, energy, minerals and protein quality.

Determine most appropriate management tools for pasture finishing including level of pasture available needed, stocking rate, water availability, effect of feeding hay on pasture.

Leverage funding:

This project has generated considerable interest and has generated some leverage funding. The Missouri Agri. Expt. Station (MAES) has funded about $40,000 in value to support meat sample preparation, analysis, and sensory analysis. The MAES has also entered into a collaborative agreement with New Zealand and this arrangement has generated another $20,000 in funding.

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.