Comparison of Stockpiled Bermudagrass + Annual Ryegrass and Traditional Hay-Only Winter Feeding Practices

Project Overview

OS04-021
Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2004: $14,645.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Larry Redmon
Texas Cooperative Extension

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: general hay and forage crops

Practices

  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Abstract:

    We found that substantial savings could be realized during the winter for beef cattle producers who used a combination of stockpiled bermudagrass plus ryegrass compared with traditional hay-only winter feeding programs. The economic savings, however, did not come at any detriment to beef cows as evidenced by similar Body Condition Scores between the two treatment groups.

    Tables, figures or graphs mentioned in this report
    are on file in the Southern SARE office.
    Contact Sue Blum at 770-229-3350 or
    sueblum@southernsare.org for a hard copy.

    Introduction

    Winter feeding is a significant portion of the annual variable costs associated with owning beef cattle. Data from various trials has indicated bermudagrass may be stockpiled during fall and grazed after frost to reduce winter feeding input costs compared with traditional hay-only feeding programs. The addition of annual ryegrass may further reduce winter feeding costs. Pasturing beef cows on stockpiled bermudagrass has not been well investigated, but the strategy may significantly reduce winter feeding costs. There are approximately 3.4 million head of cows in eastern Texas where bermudagrass is the dominant forage grass. These cows represent 63% of the total cow herd in Texas, thus savings realized using stockpiled bermudagrass and ryegrass could amount to several hundred million dollars. These savings could have an economic impact in excess of $1 billion on the state’s economy.

    Project objectives:

    The objectives of this study were to: 1) Compare the feasibility of using stockpiled bermudagrass and annual ryegrass for wintering beef cows in East Texas as evidenced by animal performance, and 2) Compare the economics of using stockpiled bermudagrass and annual ryegrass for wintering beef cows in East Texas to traditional hay feeding programs.

    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.