Forage Utilization

Evaluation of a Year-Round Grazing System: Winter Progress Report

  • Matthew J. Hersom (Iowa State University)
  • James R. Russell (Iowa State University)
  • Dennis R. Maxwell (Iowa State University)
  • L. J. Secor (Iowa State University)


The winter component of a year-round grazing system involving grazing of corn crop residues followed by grazing stockpiled grass legume forages was compared at the McNay Research Farm with that of the winter component of a minimal land system that maintained cows in drylot,. In the summer of 1995, two cuttings of hay were harvested from two 15-acre fields containing “Johnston” endophyte-free tall fescue and red clover, and two cuttings of hay were taken from two 15-acre fields of smooth bromegrass and red clover. Hay yields were 4,236 and 4,600 pounds of dry matter per acre for the tall fescue--red clover and smooth bromegrass--red clover. Following grain harvest four 7.5-acre fields containing corn crop residue were stocked with cows at midgestation at an allowance of 1.5 acres per cow. Forage yields at the initiation of corn crop grazing were 3,766pounds of dry matter per acre for corn crop residue, 1,748 pounds for tall fescue--red clover, and 1,.880 pounds for smooth bromegrass--red clover. Corn crop residues and stockpiled forages were grazed in a strip stocking system. For comparison, 20 cows were placed in two drylots simultaneously to the initiation of corn crop grazing where they remained throughout the winter and spring grazing seasons. Cows maintained in drylot or grazing corn crop residue and stockpiled forages were supplemented with hay as large round bales to maintain a body condition score of five. No seasonal differences in body weight and body condition were observed between grazing cows or cows maintained in drylot, but grazing cows required 87% and 84% less harvested hay than cows in drylot during the winter and spring respectively. Because less hay was needed to maintain grazing cows, an excess of 11,905 and 12,803 pounds of hay dry matter per cow remained in the year-round grazing system. During corn crop grazing, organic matter yield decreased at 27.3 pounds of organic matter per day from grazed areas of corn crop residue. Organic matter losses due to weathering were 9.4, 12.9, and 15.8 pounds per day in corn crop residue, tall fescue-red clover and smooth bromegrass-red clover. Organic matter losses from grazed and ungrazed areas during stockpiled grazing were 7.3 and 6.9 for tall fescue--red clover and 2.1, 2.9 for smooth bromegrass--red clover.

Keywords: ASL R1457

How to Cite:

Hersom, M. J., Russell, J. R., Maxwell, D. R. & Secor, L. J., (1998) “Evaluation of a Year-Round Grazing System: Winter Progress Report”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 1(1).

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Published on
01 Jan 1998
Peer Reviewed