300 D Grazing Discovery Farm
The objectives of the 300 d grazing discovery farm were to reduce hay feeding to 60 d or less, 90% net calf crop, average weaning weight of 249 kg and implement management practices common and available to cattle producers. The demonstration pastures consisted of 17.7 ha of common bermudagrass (Cyndodon dactylon), 2 10.6-ha pastures of toxic endophyte-infected Kentucky-31 tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), 10 ha of Ark-Plus novel-endophyte tall fescue, and 10 ha of Ark-Plus fescue/common crabgrass mix. Red (T. pretense L.) and white (T. repens L.) clovers were interseeded into fescue pastures. Each pasture contained water sources and were subdivided with electric fence. In yr 1 the cow herd was predominately Balancer females (38 multiparous cows) bred to Balancer bulls with a fall calving season. Two horned Hereford bulls were used in yr 2 to 5. The breeding seasons were approximately November 21 to January 26. The grazing protocol for each yr was fescue/clover in spring, bermudagrass for summer and early fall, fescue/clover for late fall and stockpiled fescue in winter. The primary management practices implemented were rotational grazing, strip grazing stockpiled forages during winter and a short defined breeding and calving season. The length of the grazing season for yr 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 was 337, 311, 330, 323 and 279 d, respectively, and averaged 316 ± 20.4 d (mean ± SD). The mean mature cow net calf crop for yr 2, 3, 4 and 5 was 90 ± 7.0%; 24 percentage points improvement compared to yr 1. The overall adj. 205-d BW increased (P< 0.05) from yr 1and 2 (190 and 208 kg, respectively) to yr 3, 4 and 5 (225, 222, and 233 kg, respectively). All calves were weaned during the first 2 wks of May. The weaning weight of yr 1 was 213 ± 21.4 kg. The weaning weight goal (249 kg) was achieved for yr 2, 3 and 5 and was 255 ± 39.2, 273 ± 40.4 and 259 ± 31.0 kg, respectively, and was 241 ± 35.7 in yr 4. The average calving season was 59 ± 9.4 d for 5 yr. By incorporating rotational grazing, strip grazing stockpiled forage and a short breeding and calving season a 300 d grazing with acceptable beef cattle performance can be achieved in Arkansas.
Keywords: 300 days grazing, beef cattle, rotational grazing, stockpiled forage, weaning weight