Recap - SERA 041 Symposium
By: Dr. Emily Taylor
Dr. Corey Moffet started this year's symposium, Improving Sustainability of Beef Cattle Production Systems in the Southeast, by discussing the energetic efficiency of grazing cattle. Dr. Moffet discussed residual feed intake as being one method to evaluate the efficiency of cattle, however, there are limitations due to the genotype x environmental interaction. He used the example of cattle that are most efficient in confinement, of course, are not going to be as efficient when grazing, hence the need to evaluate individuals in the appropriate environment. The direct measurement of DMI on grazing cattle is impossible. Although, the ability to measure efficiency in grazing cattle is greatly needed. Dr. Moffet discussed specifically using the method of breath cloud analysis to provide individual estimates of total heat of production and known constants for retained energy in BW gain, allowing for the calculation of ME intake. The greatest expenditure of energy is basal metabolism. He continued to explain the mechanism by which decreasing body protein turn-over rate would most likely result in a decreased basal metabolism. The research will be expensive and time-consuming, however, Dr. Moffet explained that if we are to make progress in improving the energetic energy efficiency of grazing cattle, the research is required.
Dr. James Neel continued the discussion of improving sustainability in beef cattle production systems through the use of novel approaches to improve nutrient use efficiency and product output from forage-based livestock production systems. He continued to emphasize the need for these novel approaches to be evaluated for merit in a scientific and multidisciplinary manner. Dr. Neel presented the findings of a long term research project conducted at the Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center to determine how wooded areas could be transitioned into forage production systems in a sustainable manner. The implications of silvopasture (a combination of trees and pasture) development on soil and water quality, plant community response and livestock productivity were determined. Results found that silvopasture was a viable option. Currently, research is being conducted in central Oklahoma to evaluate methods of improving livestock productivity within native prairie livestock systems. Dr. Neel presented and discussed the experiences related to both geographic locations.
To wrap the symposium, Dr. Matthew Poore discussed the efficiency of beef grazing systems and how they can be improved. Dr. Poore discussed the relatively simple changes that can be made to forage management practices that can enhance grazing efficiency. He presented a 4-year project that took place on 6 private farms and 3 public research stations meant to educate beef producers. Specifically, spatial distribution, opportunities to enhance forage nutritive value, the economic benefits of improved soil health, and innovative approaches to beef farm management are a few examples of what was taught. As the workshops continued, increases in interest and attendance were seen. They found that practical demonstrations and hands-on activities kept the attendees interested, attentive and motivated to adopt new practices.