Maximizing profitability, sustainability, and carbon sequestration of no-till forage systems for finishing beef cattle in the Gulf Coast region

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $136,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Southern
State: Louisiana
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: rye, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - rotational, winter forage, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: no-till, conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems


    This project shows that it is possible to produce 1100 lb forage-fed animals with 17-19 months of age. Systems under evaluation, although not the only ones that can exist in the Gulf Coast region, were successful in accomplishing the objectives. We were able to demonstrate that different forages or mixed pastures emit different amounts of greenhouse gases and that management practices such as amount and timing of application of fertilizer can impact these results. Net profit per steer was proved to be greater for Systems 1 and 2 compared to System 3. The use of certain management practices, labor required, and hay produced are major variables that need to be considered when producing forage-fed beef; however, the implementation of a C market may change the profitability of the forage systems. The relevance of forage-fed beef production for the region and the great interest in the topic is clearly stated on the high number of stakeholders that assisted with meetings, pasture walks, field days, and workshops. Forage-fed beef production may be on the path of becoming an important system in the region, promoting local economies and food systems.

    Project objectives:

    1) Evaluate the productivity (pounds produced per acre, carcass characteristics and beef quality produced) of 3 forage systems that will provide economic and sustainable alternatives to produce forage-fed beef in the Gulf Coast region.
    2) Assess carbon sequestration in various forage systems differing in the intensity of use of resources.
    3) Evaluate the costs and returns and labor requirements associated with each of three forage systems, assuming benefits of carbon sequestration.
    4) Disseminate gathered information via peer-reviewed journals, extension publications, magazines (The Louisiana Cattlemen and Gulf Coast Cattleman), eXtension and the Gulf Coast Beef Education Alliance, which is already established and functioning, reaching hundreds of producers and extension agents in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida through an internet interface that communicates on a monthly basis.

    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.