Forage Utilization

Rotation Grazing Demonstrations With Beef Cows on HEL - Adams County Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Project

  • Chris O. Nelson (Iowa State University)
  • Daryl R. Strohbehn (Iowa State University)
  • Steve Barnhart (Iowa State University)
  • Russ Bredahl (Iowa State University)
  • Rick Sprague (Natural Resources Conservation Service)
  • Bill Riley (Rural Economic and Community Development)
  • Brian Peterson (Natural Resources Conservation Service)
  • William Bartenhagen (Farm Service Agency)
  • Phil Anstey (Conservation Reserve Program)


Two grazing systems were demonstrated on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land in southwestern Iowa near Corning in the summers of 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995. This report summarizes the 1995 data and compares them to results from the four previous years. The systems, a 13-paddock intensive-rotational grazing system and a 4-paddock more traditional rotation, both established in 1991, are aimed at showing economically sustainable grass alternatives for steeply sloping (9-14% slope), highly erodible land (HEL) once the 10-year CRP ends. In a 147-day grazing season in 1995, nursing crossbred calves with no creep gained 2.36 pounds and 2.38 pounds per day on the 13- and 4-paddock systems, respectively. The rotations were stocked at 1.65 acres per cow-calf pair on the 13-paddock system and 1.72 acres per pair on the 4-paddock system. This produced 210.2 pounds of calf gain per acre on the 13-paddock system and 203.2 pounds of calf gain per acre on the 4- paddock system.. Similar calves gained 2.37 pounds and 2.50 pounds per day for 155 days, yielding a total gain per acre of 222.7 pounds on the 13-paddock system and 224.9 pounds on the 4-paddock system in 1994. Results for 1992 remain the highest from both systems in the five years of grazing, with calf gain per head per day at 2.45 for 155 days netting 241.9 pounds per acre on the 13- paddock system and calf gain per head per day at 2.38 for 154 days on the 4-paddock system yielding 263.6 pounds per acre. Cows maintained both their weight and condition scores in both systems again in 1995. A third system, the 18-paddock intensive-rotational grazing system, was stocked with stocker steers in 1995, and the results are reported in a second article in the 1996 ISU Beef Research Report entitled “Intensive- Rotational Grazing Steers on Highly Erodible Land at the Adams County CRP Project.” Concerning grazing management, paddocks were grazed four, five, or six times in the 13-paddock intensive- rotational grazing system during the 147-day grazing season of 1995. This number of times grazed per paddock was nearly equal to times grazed per paddock in 1994. However, several paddocks were subdivided temporarily to equalize paddock size and increase grazing uniformity. This increased the total number of cattle moves in the 13-paddock system from 78 in 1994 to 109 in 1995. The average length of stay on each paddock or subdivision of a paddock per grazing time was 1 to 2.2 days. This was less than in any of the other four grazing years in this project. The principle of not grazing more than half the standing forage during any one grazing period was closely followed in 1995. All paddocks in the 13-paddock system were also rested approximately the recommended 30 days between each grazing cycle in 1995.

Keywords: ASL R1354

How to Cite:

Nelson, C. O., Strohbehn, D. R., Barnhart, S., Bredahl, R., Sprague, R., Riley, B., Peterson, B., Bartenhagen, W. & Anstey, P., (1997) “Rotation Grazing Demonstrations With Beef Cows on HEL - Adams County Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Project”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 1(1).

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Published on
01 Jan 1997
Peer Reviewed