Forage Utilization

Evaluation of a Year-Round Grazing System: Summer Cow-Calf 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)


A comparison was made between two different summer grazing systems at the McNay Research Farm. One system was the summer component of a year-round grazing system, involving the rotational stocking of smooth bromegrass-orchardgrass-birdsfoot trefoil pastures and winter stockpile pastures with cow-calf pairs co-grazing with stocker yearlings at .75 animal units per acre. That system was compared with a minimal land system involving the rotational stocking of smooth bromegrass-orchardgrass-birdsfoot trefoil summer pastures with cow-calf pairs grazing at .64 animal units per acre and hay removal from 25% of the pasture. Stocker yearlings or hay removal were used as management tools to remove excess forage and optimize forage quality. Hay was removed once from three fourths of the winter stockpiled pastures in 1996 (Yr. 1) and all the pasture in 1997 (Yr. 2). One hay removal occurred on one fourth of the allocated summer pastures in Year 1 and one half of the pastures in Year 2. In Year one, cow-calf pairs grazing in the year-round system utilized one fourth of the winter stockpile pastures due to a lack of forage on the summer pastures, whereas in Year 2 cowcalf pairs grazed winter stockpile pastures to remove forage as a second cutting of hay. Cow-calf pairs grazing with hay removal were supplemented with harvested hay for two weeks during the summer of Year 1 due to lack of grazable forage; in Year 2, no supplementation was needed. Grazing system did not affect cow body weight, condition score, or daily calf gain in either year. Growing animal production per acre was affected by grazing system, with the minimal land system having a higher production level in Year 1 and Year 2. The year-round system also produced more net winter forage than did the minimal land system in Year 1. Differences in forage yield and quality were only observed between winter stockpile forages of tall fescue-red clover and smooth bromegrass-red clover and summer pastures during the months of June, July, and August.

Keywords: ASL R1543

How to Cite:

Hersom, M. J., Russell, J. R., Maxwell, D. R. & Secor, L. J., (1999) “Evaluation of a Year-Round Grazing System: Summer Cow-Calf Progress Report”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 1(1).

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Published on
01 Jan 1999
Peer Reviewed