Development of a novel grazing system for sustainability of a cow-calf operation

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $9,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:
Jason Carter
VA Cooperative Extension


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - rotational, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: continuous cropping
  • Education and Training: extension
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems


    The purpose of this project was to investigate implementation of alternative forages to extend grazing options for a beef cattle operation and reduce the dependency on corn production to meet year round feed requirements. Teff was planted for summer grazing of weaned fall calves to first reduce the stocking density of existing cool season perennial grass pastures and second to provide high quality grazing for growing calves in lieu of normal cool season perennial grasses in their “summer slump”. The Teff was managed for hay after the first 30 days to allow for root development and thereupon grazed by weaned calves. The performance of those calves was compared to weaned calves from the same herd grazing traditional pasture. The results of the project were that Teff, while a high quality forage, was too expensive and climatically sensitive to be profitable for beef cattle grazing in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The project was very worthwhile however and demonstrated that despite the high investment of time and resources to grow Teff there may be potential to grow it purely as a hay crop for profit.

    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.