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Precision Management Techniques for Forage Production Systems. By Andy Clifford. The Value of Forage. In Oklahoma, excluding livestock, hay is the second most valuable crop, behind winter wheat.

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the value of forage
The Value of Forage
  • In Oklahoma, excluding livestock, hay is the second most valuable crop, behind winter wheat.
  • Hay has a value of 302 million dollars annually just in the state of Oklahoma, wheat has a value of 386 million dollars.
  • There was 625,000 tons of silage cut in the year 2000 in Oklahoma.
the value of forage cont d
The Value of Forage cont’d.
  • Livestock
    • Cattle, sheep, horses, and goats all spend the majority of their life on some type of pasture.
    • The 5.4 million head of cattle in Oklahoma account for 1.57 billion dollars added to the economy annually.
    • 300,000 horses and 55,000 sheep.
pasture in oklahoma
Pasture in Oklahoma
  • 27 million acres of Oklahoma is planted or used as some type of pasture
      • 44,020,480 acres in Oklahoma.
  • 61% of the surface area of Oklahoma is in some type of permanent or temporary pasture.
grain and fiber crops
Grain and Fiber Crops
  • Production mainly focused on the production of seed or fiber associated with the seed.
  • Harvest does not usually occur until the plant has reached maturity.
  • Production aimed towards producing the most seed rather than the most green forage.
forage crops
Forage Crops
  • Production mainly aimed towards the production of high quality green forage per unit of land area.
  • Harvest occurs over a longer period before and after the plant reaches maturity.
traditional forage systems
Traditional Forage Systems
  • Continuous Livestock Grazing
  • Hay Production
  • Greenchop Forage and Drylot Systems
  • Silage Production
methods for increasing productivity or profitability through additional management
Methods for increasing productivity or profitability through additional management
  • Decrease production costs and inputs
  • Increase total volume of forage produced
  • Increase quality of forage produced
  • Increase overall value of forage produced
  • Increased forage harvest efficiency
precision management
Precision Management
  • Nutrient Management
    • Soil Testing
      • Grid soil sampling
    • Sensor based nutrient mgmt.
  • Water Management
    • Natural Rainfall
    • Irrigation
  • MIG
what is mig
What is MIG?
  • The use of additional management to improve profitability or sustainability of a livestock and forage operation.
  • Most often a combination of rotational grazing, improved forages, irrigation, and other types of intensive management techniques.
stocking rates
Stocking Rates
  • The number of animals placed in a paddock is determined by several factors related to the livestock and to the forage.
    • Weather and other environmental conditions
    • Forage
      • Quality
      • Quantity
      • Species
    • Livestock
      • Species
      • Age
      • Size
how stocking rates are determined
How stocking rates are determined
  • Stocking rates are usually determined based on the measure known as Animal Units (A.U.) or AUE.
    • One Animal Unit requires 26 pounds of dry matter per day.
forage quality and quantity
Forage quality and quantity
  • Animal units are usually based just on the quantity of forage.
  • Could stocking rates be more accurately set if the quality of the forage was also taken into consideration?
nutrient requirements of livestock
Nutrient requirements of livestock.
  • Livestock’s nutrient requirements are less as they grow older.
    • Young calves require higher quality forage than older steers or heifers.
    • Yearling cattle require higher nutrient levels than mature stock cows.
    • Etc.
determining forage availability
Determining forage availability.
  • Most common method is based on a combination of “eyeball” estimates and local averages.
  • A more accurate and precise method is a forage inventory.
forage inventory
Forage inventory

What is a forage inventory?

  • An enclosure such as a quadrant or hula hoop of known dimensions is placed in a representative area of a field.
  • The forage from within the enclosure is clipped and sorted based on species and desirability of the forage.
forage inventory cont d
Forage Inventory cont’d
  • The desirable forages are weighed and measure for quality.
  • This measure is taken in several other locations within the paddock or pasture to obtain a representative sample.
  • A stocking rate can be established based on these measurements.
  • More precise and accurate stocking rates can be established.
  • Forage availability is known and there will be less of a need for purchased feed.
  • Prevents over- or underutilization of forage.
  • Reduces Spatial variability in paddocks or pastures.
  • Maintains ideal species balance in pastures.
  • Environmental benefits.
  • Requires more time and management.
  • Requires more labor.
  • Additional knowledge of forage species, plant physiology and nutrient management is required.
  • Can create severe problems if producer neglects the system for extended periods.
cattleman grassfarmer or both
Cattleman, grassfarmer, or Both?
  • Most ranchers view themselves as caretakers of livestock.
  • A more profitable approach might be to view yourself as a grassfarmer who utilizes livestock to harvest his forage.
tools which might be useful if developed
Tools which might be useful if developed.
  • Sensors
    • On the go fertilizer applicators which use sensors.
    • A sensor which can provide an accurate quantitative and qualitative measure available forage in a paddock or pasture.
  • Oregon State University,Management Intensive Grazing Page
  • Gerrish, J.R., Basic Concepts of Management Intensive Grazing, Iowa State University Extention service, Beef Cattle Handbook,
  • Rollins, Dale, Determining Native Range Stocking Rates, Oklahoma Sate University Extension service. Pub. # F-2855
  • Oklahoma Agricultural Statistics Service.