Cow/calf Production with Limited Perennial Grass: Capitalizing on Opportunities to Integrate Cropping and Cattle Systems
In the North Central Region of the U.S. a significant amount of pasture was converted to cropland in the last decade. When asked their opinions on research needs related to cow/calf production, Nebraska and Iowa cattle producers indicated that limited availability of perennial pasture was a significant issue; however, they also suggested that there are opportunities to integrate cattle and crop production. There was interest in fall calving cow systems because they can help to distribute the labor better over the year. In these integrated systems, pairs can be grazed on annual forages/cover crops in the fall and early spring and corn residue over the winter. During the summer, cows may need to be managed in confinement. However, there are no comparisons of how an integrated system might compare with a perennial forage based system in terms of cow and calf health and performance as well as system economics. Thus a replicated on-station study will be conducted in which fall cows will be managed using cropland grazing and summer confinement and compared to a perennial forage based system. Two critical areas of concern for cattle producers were the nutritional and health management associated with calves in confinement conditions. With this in mind additional on-station research will be conducted to evaluate nutritional management strategies for the young calf while in confinement. Additionally, the disease incidence of nursing calves managed will be benchmarked at cooperator farms to determine risk factors that contribute to calf hood disease and to develop management strategies to minimize risk. The overarching goal is to assist producers in effectively incorporating confinement feeding of cows as a component of a system that includes grazing crop residues and annual forages in areas where perennial pasture is limited.
Project objectives from proposal:
The overarching goal is to assist producers in effectively incorporating confinement feeding of cows as a component of a system that includes grazing crop residues and annual forages in areas where perennial pasture is limited.
The objectives of this project are to: 1) compare a pasture based, to cropland based, fall calving cow system, 2) evaluate the nutritional management of the confined calf, and 3) characterize risk factors that contribute to health issues in young calves.
In result, producers will understand opportunities for fall calving cow systems and learn to manage nursing calves in confinement to optimize performance and health.