Forest and Range Resources; Plant Production; Animal Production; Economics,
Markets and Policy
Beef Cattle Grazing Systems that Improve Production and
Profitability While Minimizing Risk and Environmental Impacts
Impact Nugget: NC1020 determines pasture-based, complementary annual forage
yield, nutritional value and utilization. The group also determines maximum grain-based
co-product dietary inclusion rates and the economic and environmental impacts of
forage-based production systems.
Issue: Forage-based beef cattle production is an important component of North Central
state economies and environmental quality. Although grazed forages make up most feed
units consumed by beef cattle, stored feeds remain a major cattle dietary component
during yearly periods when forage quantity and/or quality are limited. Cost of feeding
stored feeds is a major constraint on the financial returns of beef cattle production.
NC1020 optimizes the amounts of dietary nutrients supplied by grazed forages for beef
cattle throughout the year. The major factor limiting North Central Region grazing is the
pasture and rangeland’s ability to supply sufficient quantities of quality forage throughout
What has the project done so far?
NC1020 forage scientists evaluate the nutrient content of pastures throughout the
growing and non-growing seasons. Investigators have evaluated stockpiling perennial
and annual forages to extend the grazing season. Research projects completed by
animal scientists have focused on dietary inclusion rates of co-products from the ethanol
industry. Kansas researchers developed grazing models to calculate monthly carrying
capacity from state-wide pastureland data. This improves animal production through
increased grazed forage efficiency using ethanol industry co-products. NC1020
scientists have presented results during numerous workshops, conferences, field days
and departmental reports.
Determined the nutritional value and utilized complementary forages and
supplementation with grain processing co-products to meet the nutrient
requirements of beef cattle grazing in summer and winter pastures.
Produced management recommendations and educational materials for crop and
livestock consultants as well as beef cattle producers on the use of summer
annual forages, winter stockpiled forages and grain co-products to improve the
nutritional status of grazing cattle.
Developed a nutrient composition database for forages common in the North
Central Region that can balance the nutrient requirements of grazing livestock in
conjunction with the North Central Region Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle
model. This model improves animal production and beef cattle production
profitability while minimizing excretion of excess nutrients.
Developed year-round forage programs, emphasizing grazing and use of co-
products, which may have significant impacts on North Central land-use intensity
Increased adoption of extended grazing management practices to improve the
profitability of North Central Region beef cattle production.
Maintained environmental quality in the North Central Region by reducing
conversion of grazing lands to cropland.
Enhanced North Central Region state economic vitality by providing an additional
use for distillers’ grains with less environmental risk than feeding in a drylot.
Research Needs for Future Impacts:
These outcomes would likely lead to further NC1020 environmental and economic risk
research associated with changing land-use patterns. Possible sources of funding for
such research would be programs in the USDA, including the National Research
Initiative and the Risk Management Agency.
Cooperators: IL, IA, KS, NE, OH, SD, South Dakota Cooperative Extension
Dr. John Baker, Administrative Advisor (email@example.com)