Using Grazing Wedges to Match Beef Cattle Nutrient Need with Pasture Resources while Reducing Feed and Fertility Costs

2010 Annual Report for LNC09-309

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $148,137.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. William Sexten
University of Missouri - Columbia

Using Grazing Wedges to Match Beef Cattle Nutrient Need with Pasture Resources while Reducing Feed and Fertility Costs


Using grazing wedges to match beef cattle nutrient need with pasture resources while reducing feed and fertility costs project was initiated at four producer locations and one University research station April 2010. Data collection began with soil, forage growth and quality samples. Grazing records, forage production and quality were collected throughout the grazing period. Producers posted forage growth data to grazing wedge website (

During 2010, 193 forage quality samples were collected and summarized. Preliminary data indicate forage quality in pastures managed using the grazing wedge can provide sufficient nutrient concentrations to meet or exceed nutrient requirements of cow-calf systems.

Three producer locations and the research station hosted grazing schools, pasture workshops or pasture walks during the grazing period. Instructions were given to producers on how to use grazing wedge data and forage quality results to optimize forage quality and quantity. Small “core producer” groups were solicited to develop a co-learner setting during the grazing season to address challenges using grazing wedge data.

Due to producer unfamiliarity with the grazing wedge model, development of core producer groups was delayed until 2011. Delaying core group formation allowed producer to become accustomed to pasture management using the grazing wedge before leading discussions with other co-learners.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  • Demonstrate forage budgeting techniques using grazing wedge in conjunction with forage and cattle management protocols
    Increase social interaction and idea sharing among core producer group participants
    Increased cattle and forage management knowledge
  • Increased focus on strategic feed and fertilizer use in forage based beef production systems
    Increase producer focus from increased forage production to increased forage use efficiency
  • Improved operation profitability
    Increased forage utilization
    Reduced or strategically altering feed and fertilizer use


During 2010, four pasture walks were held at three producer locations where 93 producers interacted addressed current pasture and beef cattle management issues. Host producers shared current management challenges and potential solutions. Attendees offered additional suggestions to challenges and State and Regional Extension personnel “moderated” discussions among producers.

Core producers learned how to collect soil samples, determine pasture growth and collect forage quality samples. Core producers maintained pasture productivity and grazing records for later use in prioritizing pasture use. All producers were instructed on grazing wedge use for forage budgeting and pasture allocation.

Due to increased grazing management and abundant moisture three core producers harvested excess forage production as hay. While increased hay harvest is not encouraged nor an objective of this project, harvest of excess forage demonstrates potential for increased stocking rates or reduction in supplemental feed and forage resource needs.

Results from forage quality data indicate producers managing pastures using grazing wedge can focus management efforts on providing adequate forage intake rather than focusing on forage quality. Grazing wedge data summaries allow producers to compare pastures by productivity and focus forage management and fertilizer inputs on most productive pastures. Grazing records were submitted to evaluate pasture productivity and estimate forage use efficiency.

Due to activities during 2010, increased project interest was generated among regional livestock specialists. As a result three additional locations were added for data collection during 2011 and 2012. Additionally, Iowa State University used the Grazing Wedge web site as component of a pasture management student assignment.

The University of Missouri Wurdack research station has hosted 100 producers at their annual field day and 40 producers at an advanced grazing school where grazing wedge and forage quality results were presented and discussed during pasture management presentations.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Collection of forage quality data has demonstrated pastures managed using the grazing wedge can meet or exceed the nutrient requirements of cow-calf operation provided adequate forage dry matter is available. A database has been developed to summarize forage quality by month, location and dry matter availability.

Core producers have increased awareness and experience using grazing wedge pasture management techniques as a result core producer groups will be formed in 2011 to facilitate knowledge transfer.

Grazing wedge use by beef producers has improved forage budgeting techniques during the grazing season and increased knowledge of pasture productivity at the conclusion of the grazing season. One core producer used grazing records and forage quality data from 2010 to expand their operation purchasing additional acreage and developing a custom grazing enterprise.


Dr. Robert Kallenbach

[email protected]
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
208 Waters Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
Office Phone: 5738822801
Gene Schmitz

[email protected]
Regional Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri
119 W. Main
P.O. Box 637
Warsaw, MO 65355
Office Phone: 6604385012
Ted Cunningham

[email protected]
Regional Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
112 E. 5th Street
Salem, MO 65560
Office Phone: 5737293196
Robert Kelly

[email protected]
Regional Ag Business Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
4125 Mitchell Ave
St. Joseph, MO 64507
Office Phone: 8162791691
Joe Horner

[email protected]
State Extension Beef and Dairy Economist
University of Missouri Extension
223 Mumford Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
Office Phone: 5738829339
Wayne Prewitt

[email protected]
Regional Ag Business Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
Courthouse Ground Floor
Nevada, MO 64772
Office Phone: 4174482560
Dr. William McClain

[email protected]
Regional Agronomy Specalist
University of Missouri Extension
P.O. Box 190
Steelville, MO 65565
Office Phone: 5737752135
Jim Humphrey

[email protected]
Regional Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
P.O. Box 32
2nd Floor Courthouse
Savannah, MO 64485
Office Phone: 8163243147
Al Decker

[email protected]
Regional Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
1 North Delaware
Butler, MO 64730
Office Phone: 6606794167
Ryan Milhollin

[email protected]
State Extension Associate
University of Missouri Extension
223 Mumford Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
Office Phone: 5738820668