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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Forage systems for production of stocker steers in the upper south
Year: 2000
Author(s): Allen, V. G., Fontenot, J. P., Brock, R. A.
Source Title: Journal of Animal Science
Source Type: Journal
pages: 1973-1982
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: The southern states produce large numbers of beef calves that are generally weaned and sold in autumn. Keeping calves in this region beyond weaning to graze high-quality forages through a stocker cattle phase could improve profitability. Autumn-weaned Angus crossbred steers were allocated by breeding and weight to four forage systems that began in mid-November and continued through mid-October as follows: System 1, tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.)white clover (Trifolium repens L.); System 2, tall fescue, caucasian bluestem (Bothriochloa caucasica [Trin.] C. E. Hubbard) and tall fescue-red clover (Trifolium pratense L.); System 3, orchardgrass-alfalfa and bluegrass-white clover; and System 4, rye (Secale cereale L.), soybeans (Glycine max)-foxtail millet (Setaria italica), and bluegrass-white clover. All steers were supplemented with hay or silage previously cut from their respective systems when forage for grazing was limited. System 2 which used stockpiled tall fescue for winter grazing and caucasian bluestem for summer forage plus fescue-red clover for hay and grazing in a three-paddock system, resulted in greater (P < .01) gain per hectare and per steer, more grazing days, and reduced stored forage requirements and produced more surplus feed than the other systems tested. Gains per hectare for Systems 1 through 4 were 454, 554, 472, and 487 kg (SE = 18), respectively. Harvested forage from Systems 1, 2, and 3 met needs for stored forages but System 4 required additional "purchased" hay. Stored forage was fed for 61, 38, 112, or 104 d for Systems I through 4, respectively. Within the physio-climatic region of this experiment, a simple three-paddock system based on cool- and warm-season perennial forages could improve beef production per unit of land area while reducing inputs of labor and equipment.