Developing Partnerships between Southern Michigan Cash Crop Farmers and Northern Michigan Livestock Producers
Cover crops not only provide erosion control while recycling nutrients but also can provide winter grazing where livestock are incorporated into farming operations.
Objectives: 1) To evaluate crops for fall or winter grazing following early harvested potatoes and snap beans, 2) to determine livestock weight gains and economics of fall or winter grazing systems, and 3) to measure influence of rotational grazing on seed corn production. Cereal rye and oats were seeded into a harvested potato field on August 10. Cereal rye, oats and an oat and rape forage mix were seeded in separate strips in a harvested snap bean field on August 22. A five-acre snap bean field was seeded August 27, with test strips of clover, brassicas, triticale, wheat and oats. Brassicas were also seeded into standing seed corn on August 14 to 24.
Results: Cattle were turned into early seeded oats in September, moved to brassicas in January and cereal rye in late winter or early spring. The net return from grazing to the farmer was $11.60 per acre, while grazing costs to the grazier were approximately $0.40 per day for a 1000-pound heifer. Costs of trucking, management, etc. were extra. Yields on the following seed corn crop were lower on the grazed versus ungrazed plots. The grazing trials will be continued another year to acquire additional data.