The University of Arizona

Extended grazing systems for improving economic returns from Nebraska sandhills cow/calf operations.

D.C. Adams, R.T. Clark, S.A. Coady, J.B. Lamb, M.K. Nielsen

Abstract


Three winter treatments were cross classified with 2 spring treatments to create 6 feeding and grazing systems utilizing Nebraska sandhills range and subirrigated meadow forage. Systems were evaluated with multiparous crossbred beef cows over 4 years (240 head beginning year 1). Systems were: 1) owing range during winter; 2) grazing subirrigated meadow during winter; and 3) fur feed of meadow bay during winter; in combination with either: a) full feed of subirrigated meadow hay during May, or b) grazing subirrigated meadow during May. From June through November all cows grazed range. The feeding and grazing systems were compared with selected linear contrasts and evaluated with respect to variable input prices. Some differences in cow body weight and body condition occurred but differences were considered small. Throughout the study, cows on all systems generally maintained a body condition score of about 5 (1 to 9 scale) year long. Inputs of hay were reduced by grazing range or subirrigated meadow during winter and during May without affecting pregnancy rate. Weaning weight of calves was increased 5.0 kg by grazing meadow during May compared to feeding hay during May. When opportunity costs were included in the analysis, the most profitable system involved grazing subirrigated meadow during winter and during May. Grazing subirrigated meadow during May enhanced the profitability of all wintering systems.

Keywords


subsurface irrigation;pregnancy rate;farm income;irrigated pastures;weaning weight;costs and returns;body condition;production costs;calves;grazing trials;body weight;Nebraska;beef cows;profitability;natural grasslands;cattle feeding

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