Using Irrigated Forage Pastures to Enhance Livestock Production Sustainability

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2004: $13,555.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Bruce Bosley
Colorado State University
Gene Schmitz
Colorado State University


  • Agronomic: general hay and forage crops, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: pasture fertility, pasture renovation, grazing - rotational, watering systems, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, value added
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Western beef producers typically generate narrow profit margins, and studies show that those who keep their feed costs low are often the most successful. To that end, many are switching from harvested crops like alfalfa, grass hay and corn to irrigated, cool season forages for grazing and hay. Pastures can reduce feeding costs, simplify some management decision and enhance marketing options. However, switching to pastures can raise new challenges. This project will try to help ranchers switching to irrigated forages achieve increased success. Five ranchers with experience using irrigated forages will share their success and failures with agricultural professionals, who will document these tips and concerns and track the producers’ hay yields, grazing times, forage quality and cattle productivity. Information gathered will be shared with other producers through field days, an irrigated pasture workshop and the media.

    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.