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The Center for Native Grasslands Management




Title: Stocker cattle response to grazing management in tallgrass prairie
Year: 1999
Author(s): McCollum, F.T., Gillen, R.L., Karges, B.R., Hodges, M.E.
Source Title: Journal of Range Management
Source Type: Journal
pages: 120-126
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: The effects of stocking rate and grazing method on performance of yearling beef cattle grazing tallgrass prairies in north-central Oklahoma were evaluated from 1989 to 1994. Pastures dominated by big bluestem [Andropogon gerardii Vitman], little bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash], and indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash], were allocated to either short duration rotational or continuous stocking methods and stocking rates ranging from 52 animal-unit-days (AUD) ha(-1) to 90 AUD ha(-1). Steers grazed the units from late April to late September. Precipitation was above average during the study period. Live weight gain per head was higher under continuous stocking than rotational stocking at all stocking rates. At 52 AUD ha(-1), individual gains under rotational stocking were 11% less than under continuous stocking. At 90 AUD ha(-1), individual gains under rotational stocking were decreased by 20%. Measurements of steer diets and forage standing crop suggest the reduction in weight gain was due to reduced forage intake under rotational stocking. Live weight gain per hectare increased with stocking rate and was higher with continuous stocking at all stocking rates. Net returns per hectare increased as stocking rate increased for both stocking methods but were lower for rotational stocking at all stocking rates. Variable costs per head would have to decrease by 24 to 34% under rotational stocking to equalize net returns between the 2 grazing methods. Unless the decline in gain per head can be reduced or eliminated, there is no economic incentive to implement rotational stocking under the conditions of this study.
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