Grazing Yearlings on Annual Forage Pastures
Low annual returns on capital investments from a wheat/fallow system compel some Northern Plains producers to seek alternatives.
Objective: To determine if annual forages for grazing or hay can exceed the net return per acre from traditional cereal crops in western North Dakota.
Methods: Approximately 870 acres were seeded to an annual forage selection of winter rye, oats, grazing barley, and sorghum/sudan. The area was fenced and cross fenced to produce a nine paddock grazing system, and 450 yearling cattle were turned out in mid-May and rotated through the system. Of the 870 acres, 125 harvested for hay, 190 grazed and hayed and the balance only grazed.
Results: Average daily gain for the yearlings in a four-month grazing season was 1.9 lbs per day on steers and 1.72 lbs per day on heifers. Overall beef production was 110 lbs per acre grazed. In addition, more than $16,000 worth of hay was harvested. Net return was $21 per acre compared to a net return of $8 per acre for traditional spring wheat.
North Central Region SARE 1998 Annual Report.