Production of a Videotape Series Demonstrating Improved Grazing Practices to Promote Forage-Based Livestock Production in the Upper Midwest

Project Overview

LNC94-071
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1994: $19,200.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1998
Matching Federal Funds: $1,650.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $77,726.00
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
James Russell
Dept of Animal Science, Iowa State University

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy

Practices

  • Animal Production: grazing - continuous, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, winter forage, feed/forage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, agricultural finance
  • Natural Resources/Environment: riverbank protection
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Abstract:

    [Note to online version: The report for this project includes a table and appendices that could not be included here. The regional SARE office will mail a hard copy of the entire report at your request. Just contact North Central SARE at (402) 472-7081 or ncrsare@unl.edu.]

    The objective of this work was to develop a videotape series demonstrating improved grazing practices particularly applicable to forage species and environmental conditions found in the upper Midwest. The first tape “Introduction to Managed Grazing” initiates the series by discussing the importance of ruminant livestock to the Iowa economy, the benefits of incorporating grazing into farming enterprises and the advantages and limitations of utilized managed grazing practices. The second tape “Pasture Plants” describes methods of improving pasture productivity by considering the effects of grazing intensity on photosynthetic capacity through leaf area and nutrient absorption through root growth and the habit and management of growth in the forage species found in Midwest pastures. The third tape “Animal Management” describes the technical aspects of managing a controlled grazing system including the determination of stocking rates and the size, number, shape and placement of paddocks needed to optimize profitability of different livestock enterprises and also placement of water systems, gates and milking facilities, management of reproduction and internal parasite control. The fourth tape “Fencing and Watering Systems” describes the options in fencing and watering equipment currently available and the considerations in the proper use of this equipment for a managed grazing system. The final tape “Year Around Resource Management” describes the productivity and nutritive value of forage resources available for grazing in the different seasons of the year and methods of matching the numbers, genetics and management of beef cows, beef stocker steers, dairy cows or ewes with the forages available for grazing in each season to optimize enterprise profitability. These tapes were distributed to the county extension offices in Iowa and have been sold at a nominal charge to 410 individuals since their release.

    As a supplement to the videotape series, a book entitled Pasture Management Guide for Livestock Producers has been prepared. The book consists of 5 sections: (1) Managing Pasture Plants discusses the characteristics of forage species common in the Midwest, the mechanism and control of plant growth in grazing systems, and different pasture weed control, fertilization, management and renovation strategies; (2) Livestock Management discusses the nutrient requirements of different species and classes of grazing animals as affected by physiological state, health problems associated with grazing systems, management of reproduction or milking in grazing systems, fencing and watering options and the need and use of other feed resources to supplement grazing animals; (3) Planning for Improvements in Grazing Systems discusses the integration of plant and animal resources to optimize grazing both during the summer and winter, calculation of present carrying capacity using forage mass and intake and seasonal carrying capacity using the soil types within the pasture; and paddock layout; (4) Monitoring and Evaluating the Grazing System discusses the type of records needed to register production and management decisions and to plan future management of feed and animal resources; and (5) Managing Risk in Grazing Systems describing the integration of pasture management systems within the level of risk acceptable to the producer. Examples of worksheets to calculate the number and/or size of paddocks or the carrying capacity of pastures are included. This book will be offered through Iowa State University extension at a nominal charge.

    Introduction:

    Although incorporation of forages in farming systems results in less soil erosion and water pollution and greater wildlife habitat than row crop production, profitability of forage use must be equal or greater to row crop production to increase their use in farming. Considerable research has demonstrated that the profitability of forage-based livestock production systems would be significantly improved by improving management during summer and winter. Best management practices for an individual farm are site-specific so training producers improved grazing management can not be done with a single set of steps as readily as row crop production. Producers need a general set of guidelines which they can manage differently depending on the annual variations in environmental and economic factors on their own farm.

    Videotapes provide a valuable means of demonstrating improved farming practices. Few videotape series on grazing management are available in the upper Midwest. Those available have emphasized economic and environmental benefits, but have not demonstrated technical considerations. The objective of this project was to develop a videotape series demonstrating improved grazing practices in the Upper Midwest. The 5-tape series of videotapes included: (1) Introduction to Managed Grazing; (2) Pasture Plants; (3) Animal Management; (4) Fencing and Watering Systems; and (5) Year Around Resource Management. The videotapes were prepared and copied by October, 1995. They have been distributed to each Iowa county extension office and 410 copies have been sold.

    As a supplement to the videotape series, a book entitled Pasture Management Guide for Livestock Producers has been prepared. This full color publication discusses and demonstrates the subjects discussed in the videotape series in more detail and also presents information on topics not provided in the videotapes. The book consists of 5 sections: (1) Managing Pasture Plants discusses the characteristics of forage species common in the Midwest, the mechanism and control of plant growth in grazing systems, and different pasture weed control, fertilization, management and renovation strategies; (2) Livestock Management discusses the nutrient requirements of different species and classes of grazing animals as affected by physiological state, health problems associated with grazing systems, management of reproduction or milking in grazing systems, fencing and watering options and the need and use of other feed resources to supplement grazing animals; (3) Planning for Improvements in Grazing Systems discusses the integration of plant and animal resources to optimize grazing both during the summer and winter, calculation of present carrying capacity using forage mass and intake and seasonal carrying capacity using the soil types within the pasture; and paddock layout; (4) Monitoring and Evaluating the Grazing System discusses the type of records needed to register production and management decisions and to plan future management of feed and animal resources; and (5) Managing Risk in Grazing Systems describing the integration of pasture management systems within the level of risk acceptable to the producer. To emphasize topics of particular interest, sidebars on such subjects such as incorporation of grazing in dairy or horse operations and bloat control are included. Furthermore, examples of worksheets to calculate the number and/or size of paddocks or the carrying capacity of pastures are included.

    Project objectives:

    To develop a videotape series demonstrating improved grazing practices particularly applicable to forage species and environmental conditions found in the upper Midwest.

    To prepare a full color publication discussing and demonstrating the subjects discussed in the videotape series in more detail and also present information on topics related to grazing that were not included in the videotapes.

    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.