The University of Arizona

Economics of maintaining cow condition on fescue prairie in winter.

B.S. Freeze, W.D. Willms, L. Rode


Lifetime productivity of fescue grasslands (Festuca scabrella var. campestris Rydb.) is enhanced by fall and winter grazing as opposed to summer grazing. However, forage quality is below the maintenance requirements of cattle and weathering losses will reduce available forage. Cows tend to lose weight and backfat prior to calving if their only feed source through fall and winter is native grassland. Maintaining adequate cow condition for spring calving is important to prevent long term losses associated with reduced calf birth weights, lower cow fertility and reduced cow longevity. Cow condition can be improved by having cows graze annual forage in the fall or by supplementing the cows with grain screenings. Alternatively, cows can be fed in a feedlot prior to calving to restore body condition lost in grazing native grassland in the fall and winter. Results from a 3-year experiment showed that winter wheat pasture grazed in the fall, supplemented with grain screenings was generally the least expensive alternative (ranging from $70 cow(-1) at low barley prices approaching $.051 kg(-1), to $97 cow(-1) at high barley prices approaching $0.175 kg(-1)) for maintaining cow condition prior to calving. Restoring cow condition in a feedlot prior to calving was less expensive that provision of fall annual pasture when grain prices were low (barley price below $0.14 kg(-1).


feed requirements;input prices;backfat;steaming up;fat thickness;milling residues;winter grazing;summer grazing;grazing date;body condition;production costs;Festuca campestris;grazing experiments;beef cows;feedlots;barley;feed supplements

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