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Grazing Management to Meet Animal Performance Targets. Mark Kennedy State Grazinglands Specialist USDA-NRCS Houston, MO. Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Livestock from Pasture. INTAKE INTAKE INTAKE. Overview. Balancing animal numbers and forage supply

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Grazing management to meet animal performance targets

Grazing Management to Meet Animal Performance Targets

Mark Kennedy

State Grazinglands Specialist

USDA-NRCS

Houston, MO



Overview
Overview

  • Balancing animal numbers and forage supply

  • Matching diet quantity and quality needs

  • Matching grazing management and paddock numbers


Animal intake stocking rate
Animal Intake / Stocking Rate

  • There is only a certain amount of forage produced in any plant community that is available for use. Every acre can only support a finite amount of animal weight

  • Matching the type and number of livestock to the forage base is very important for meeting animal targets as well as maintaining pasture condition


The 1st Step: Balance Livestock Numbers with Forage Supply

  • Stocking rate: The number of animals or animal liveweight assigned to a grazing unit on a seasonal basis.

  • Carrying capacity: The stocking rate that provides a target level of performance while maintaining the integrity of the resource base.

    • Stocking rate has a big effect on intake and availability.


Carrying capacity of pasture is determined by four factors

Forage

Production

Seasonal

Utilization Rate

X

Carrying

Capacity

=

Length of the

Grazing Season

Daily

Intake

X


Carrying capacity
Carrying Capacity

  • Example:

    • Stocker operation(buying 500# selling 800#)

    • 200 day seasonal grazing (April 1 - Oct. 20)

    • 16 paddock system (1-3 day grazing period)

    • 8000 lb. total forage production (from history/experience, soil survey, forage suitability groups)


Grazier s arithmetic
Grazier’s Arithmetic

Then ….

Carrying Capacity

8000 lb/acre X .65

=

.03 lb forage/lb liveweight X 200 days

= 867 lb liveweight / acre


Grazier s arithmetic1
Grazier’s Arithmetic

  • 867 lbs. per acre/500 lb = 1.73 steers/ac

    • Can we stock 1.73 steers/ac initially?

  • If we expect them to grow to 800 lb. then

  • 800 + 500 = 1300/2 = 650 (avg wt)

    • 867/650 = 1.33 steers/ac


Forage intake on pasture
Forage Intake on Pasture

  • Quantity/Availability

    • Proper stocking rates, grazing management

  • Quality

    • Grazing management, species selection


Effect of forage availability on relative forage intake
Effect of Forage Availability on Relative Forage Intake


Effect of forage availability on relative forage intake1
Effect of Forage Availability on Relative Forage Intake

How much does a 1,000 lb

Cow eat?

@2.5% BW about 25lb DM

With limited availability

19 lb DM


Intake

75% Availability

Time spent grazing

6–10 hours per day

6–10 hours ruminating

Biting rate

Cattle avg. 50 bites/min

Bite size

Cattle average 0.3 g DM per bite

Measured range of 0.07 to 0.59 g per bite

Related to availability

25% forage quality

Intake


Factors affecting intake
Factors Affecting Intake

Dry matter intake =

Biting Rate x Biting (grazing) Time x Bite Size

Dry matter intake =

50 bites/min x 600 min/day x 0.3 g/bite =

9.0 kg or 19.8 lb DM intake per day


Factors affecting intake1
Factors Affecting Intake

If bite size is only 0.07 g/bite

50 bites/min x 600 min/day x 0.07 g/bite =

2.1 kg or 4.6 lb DMintake per day

If bite size is 0.59 g/bite

50 bites/min x 600 min/day x 0.59 g/bite =

17.7 kg or 38.9 lb DM intake per day


Effect of forage availability on relative forage intake2
Effect of Forage Availability on Relative Forage Intake

6 - 10”

2 - 3”



Factors affecting forage quality

  • Plant maturity

  • Species

  • Plant Part


Factors affecting forage quality

  • Plant maturity

    • Growth stage

    • Length of rest period



Rest period needs
Rest Period Needs

25 - 35 days

20 - 25 days

35 - 45 days

15 - 20 days

35 - 45 days

30 - 35 days


Factors affecting forage quality

  • Plant maturity

  • Species


Factors affecting forage quality

  • Species

    • Legumes > grasses

    • Annuals > perennials

    • Cool-season > warm season


Forage chain
Forage Chain

LEGUME, Cool seanon grass – based perennial pastures

Summer Annuals- forage sorghums, sudangrass, millet, corn, crabgrass, perennial warm season grasses

Winter Annuals – rye, ryegrass, triticale,brassicas

Winter Annuals-rye, ryegrass, triticale, brassicas

High Quality Hay/stockpiled fescue

High Quality Hay/stockpiled fescue


Diversity is the key
Diversity is the Key

  • Diverse pastures are more productive

  • Are less prone to disease and insect damage

  • Broadens nutritional opportunities of the grazing livestock

  • Legumes provide nitrogen for the grass and improve overall diet quality


Factors affecting forage quality

  • Plant part

    • Leaves vs stems

    • First bite vs second bite


3 Factors Affecting Forage Quality

1. Maturity

2. Species

3. Plant Part

1st bite: leaves with low fiber

High quality

2nd bite: medium quality

3rd bite: stems with high fiber – low

quality – leave for regrowth


Animal requirements vs forage quality at different maturities
Animal Requirements vs Forage Quality at Different Maturities

Can use different stages of quality to our advantage

Adjust body condition score

Increase, maintain, or decrease body condition

Creep grazing

Calves allowed to creep gaze into higher quality pasture

“Leader – Follower” grazing

Animals with highest nutrient needs graze pasture first followed by those with lower nutritional needs

High Quality -First grazers

Medium quality - Last grazers



Estimated nutrient content of tall fescue at different maturities
Estimated Nutrient Content of Tall Fescue at Different Maturities


Animal requirements vs forage quality at different maturities1
Animal Requirements vs Forage Quality at Different Maturities

600 lb beef steer, 2.0 lb ADG


Monitor your forage for quality
Monitor your forage for quality

Brix Meter

tests forage

Grab Samples

tests forage

Tried and true method

How high is the pile?

pH Paper

monitor urine

NUTBAL

analyze manure


Forage quality pancake batter pumpkin pies or wedding cakes
Forage Quality:Pancake batter, Pumpkin Pies or Wedding Cakes?


The key to successful grazing management
The Key to Successful Grazing Management

  • Flexibility

    • The ability to adapt or modify, being responsive to changing conditions


Grazing management objectives
Grazing Management Objectives

  • Have grazing animals take 1 large bite or mouthful (animal intake) off of as many plants as possible in a pasture (Utilization)

  • Remove the animals from the pasture before any regrowth occurs and by the time 50% of the current growth has been removed (plant persistence/health)(animal intake)

  • Have enough pastures to allow sufficient regrowth and rest before being grazed again (rest/plant health) (animal intake)

Mark Kennedy,Ozarkian, 2007


Plant growth and management
Plant Growth and Management:

  • During grazing periods: control stubble height

    • not too low—keep growing points

    • not too low—good photosynthesis for regrowth

    • not too low—keep roots growing

    • not too low – maintain bite size for intake

  • Between grazing periods: schedule rest periods

    • allow photosynthesis

    • allow leaves to regrow to proper heights

    • not too long or forage quality declines


Plant growth and management1
Plant Growth and Management:

  • Example: 12 paddock system

    • Grazing period 2 day 3 day 4 day

    • Rest Period 22 day 33 day 44 day

    • Flexibility!


Matching forage and animal resources
Matching Forage and Animal Resources

  • Enterprises with higher potential net return require higher quality pasture and more intensive management

    • Greater forage yield per acre

    • Forage quality should be better

    • Management must be more intensive

    • Number of paddocks should be greater


Matching forage and livestock resources

  • Economic potential of grazing enterprises

    • Pasture-based dairy/Beef finishing

    • Dairy replacements /Beef stockers

    • Sheep and goats, Cow-calf, Horses

Paddock #’s


So how many paddocks do i need
So how many paddocks do I need?

  • It depends

    • length of grazing period desired

      • producer goals, livestock performance

    • length of rest period needed

      • Changes seasonally

  • rest period

    grazing period + # herds = paddock #


Grazing period needs

Plant based:

2 - 5 days fast grow

5 - 9 days

moderate

9 - 12 slow growth

Animal performance:

.5 - 1 day dairy cows/finishing

1 - 2 days growing/fattening

2 - 5 days lactating beef cattle, sheep, horses

Grazing period Needs


Impact of days on paddock on change in sward composition
Impact of Days on Paddock onChange in Sward Composition

Impact of Days on Paddock on Organic Matter Intake


Rest period needs1
Rest period needs

  • Rest period needs: 15 - 20 days during rapid growth 20 - 30 days during moderate growth 30 - 45 days during slow growth 40 - 60 days very slow growth


How many paddocks do i need
How many paddocks do I need?

  • Paddock Number = rest period grazing period + 1

  • Ex: 20 day rest period - spring 2 day grazing period +1 = 11 40 day rest period - summer 2 day grazing period + 1 = 21


How many paddocks do i need1
How many paddocks do I need?

  • Or: 40 day rest period 4 day grazing period + 1 = 11



Summary
Summary

  • Animals delight most to feed on fresh plants

  • Animals supplied with this kind of food would be quickly fatted

  • If a farmer divided his land into 15 - 20 equal divisions,

  • Stopped his beasts from roaming indiscriminately

  • Put the whole number of his beasts into one of these divisions

  • Have the number of beasts so great as to consume the best part of the grass in one day


Summary cont d
Summary cont’d:

  • Give them a fresh park every morning to repeat the same repast

  • Have so many parks as days required to advance the grass to the proper length after being eaten fare down

  • So the first park would be ready to receive them after going over all the others

  • So they might be carried round in a constant rotation

    • James Anderson, Scottish Agriculturalist, 1777


The End

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