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

2011 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 in 2010 and expanded to three additional sites in 2011.

Data collection continued in 2011 with soil, forage growth and quality samples. Grazing records, forage production and quality data were collected throughout the grazing period. Producers posted forage growth data to grazing wedge website (

During 2011, 306 forage quality samples were collected and summarized. Data continue to 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. Producers have suggested the grazing wedge is better suited to use as a forage inventory tool.

Functionality of core producer groups increased during 2011. Facilitated discussion increased as groups become increasingly familiar with other operations. Co-learner education model continues to require facilitation by Extension personnel. Core producer generated data are widely used at field days and pasture walks to illustrate concepts and provide examples other producers relate to.

Managing forages using the grazing wedge improved core producers ability to maintain pastures in vegetative state. Vegetative pastures are more productive and higher quality and should increase animal productivity.

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


The 4 core producers continued to collect forage quality (306 samples) and yield data in 2011 in addition to hosting and facilitating pasture walks. Three additional producer sites were started in 2011 in conjunction with data collection by regional Extension specialists. Additional sites offer increased further opportunities to discuss and observe management differences.

During 2011, eleven pasture walks and core producer meetings were held with 135 producers in attendance. As groups continue to meet producer interactions improve resulting in increased idea sharing and questions. Pasture walks or forage planning meetings were held throughout the year to prepare for upcoming grazing season in addition to review impact of decisions made during the season.

Producer collected data was used at 15 different forage meetings and field days with 910 attendees. The grazing wedge and producer grazing data is used as a demonstration of a forage inventory and feed budgeting tool. Hot and dry conditions during late summer and early fall results in producers concerned about hay and pasture supplies. The grazing wedge offered opportunity to inventory the farm and plan feed accordingly.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The attached presentation, Grazing Wedge Use in Beef Production Systems, outlines keys to grazing wedge use. This presentation was used to educate core producer groups on how a grazing wedge can be used for prioritizing feed resources in a grazing system while planning feed and forage needs for fall and winter. A grazing records document was developed to encourage core producers to document pasture use and stocking rate in a uniform manner allowing evaluation of grazing days and pasture utilization rates.

Forage quality data collected from core producer pasture systems continues to exceed the needs of gestating and lactating beef cows. The attached document, 2011 SARE forage quality summary, helps illustrate the negative impact of delayed forage harvest by demonstrating the seasonal relationship of forage fiber digestibility and content.

Producers suggest the grazing wedge is better suited to a forage inventory tool than a quality management tool in beef production systems due to repeated demonstration of acceptable quality forage in managed grazing systems. With acceptable forage quality achieved producers can focus management efforts on feed, forage and fertilizer planning. Future use of the grazing wedge will focus on forage inventory opportunities.

The 2010-2011 cooperator data summary indicates producers are improving forage management using the grazing wedge. Producers are maintaining forage in a vegetative state with minimal overgrazing, resulting in improved forage quality but also increased forage production due to vegetative growth.


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