September 09, 2019

Interpretive Summary: Enhancing the adoption of stockpiling tall fescue and managed grazing

Interpretive Summary: Enhancing the adoption of stockpiling tall fescue and managed grazing.

By: Jackie Walling

An article published in Translational Animal Science investigated ways to cut agricultural costs in the beef industry by utilizing managed grazing and stockpiled forage. The goal of this study was to evaluate the nutritive value in stockpiled forage and inform individuals about the benefits of these practices to encourage future use.

This was a 3-year study that consisted of 18 farms in 13 different counties in North Carolina. Researchers evaluated nutritive values and soil quality as well as feed, equipment, and labor costs between feeding hay and stockpiled forage. Results were dependent upon on-farm technology demonstrations and farmers’ records.

Soil pH was adequate and reduced the need for lime. The nutritive value was higher in fresh forage compared to hay and remained consistent. Fresh forage often exceeded NRC requirements for lactating or developing heifers. The only decline in nutritive value occurred during winter months.

The winter grazing season consisted of 63 days starting in December. Cattle were relocated to new pastures about 55 times throughout the study only being fed hay when ice or snow prevented cows from receiving adequate nutrition. This cut equipment and labor costs to $28.45 per standard cow/year. Supplemental feed was rarely needed, except for free-choice minerals. Choosing to graze cows over supplying hay and concentrate saved an estimated $1855 during this time.

Hands-on demonstrations and farmers’ word of mouth encouraged the continuation of these practices following the conclusion of the study. Grazing management practices continued on 14 of the farms. Farmers reported the management resulted in reduced expenses in feed, fuel, and equipment as well as calmer livestock and improved soil quality.

For the full article, visit Translational Animal Science.