Expanding the grazing season for sustainable year-round forage-finished beef production

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $163,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: South Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Susan Duckett
Clemson University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: millet
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: free-range, pasture renovation, grazing - rotational
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, value added
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal abstract:

    Forage-finished beef products have greater concentrations of nutraceutical compounds compared to beef from traditional grain-finished cattle. Markets are expanding for animal products raised naturally on forage based systems with enhanced nutraceutical content. Currently there are limitations in providing year-around supply of forage finished beef, which limits marketing potentials and customer satisfaction. Production of forage-finished beef during fall, winter and spring months is effectively accomplished in the Southeastern U.S. through utilization of cool season forages. However, forages for finishing beef cattle in summer months are limited and research is needed to evaluate alternate forage crops (chicory, alfalfa, cowpea, pearl millet). Utilization of these alternative forages could alter the fatty acid composition, fat soluble vitamin content, and palatability of the resulting beef product. Therefore, we propose evaluating various forages to expand the grazing season to improve forage production during the summer months, enhance animal performance and economic returns, and assess changes in beef composition and consumer acceptability.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1) Examine potential forage systems to expand grazing seasons for year-around forage-finished beef production.

    2) Determine the effect of these various warm season forages on beef carcass quality, composition and palatability
    3) Determine the profitability of these forage systems as compared to traditional marketing schemes.
    4) Implement on-farm plots and experiment station field days to demonstrate results and deliver information to farmers.

    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.