Forage Utilization

Integrating the Use of Spring- and Fall-Calving Beef Cows in a Year-round Grazing System (A Progress Report)

  • J. R. Russell (Iowa State University)
  • N. Janovick (Iowa State University)
  • D. R. Strohbehn (Iowa State University)
  • D. G. Morrical (Iowa State University)
  • S. K. Barnhart (Iowa State University)
  • D. Maxwell (Iowa State University)
  • L. J. Secor (Iowa State University)


Animal production, hay production and feeding, and the yields and composition of forage from summer and winter grass-legume pastures and winter corn crop residue fields from a year-round grazing system were compared with those of a conventional system. The year-round grazing system utilized 1.67 acres of smooth bromegrass-orchardgrass-birdsfoot trefoil pasture per cow in the summer, and 1.25 acres of stockpiled tall fescue-red clover pasture per cow, 1.25 acres of stockpiled smooth bromegrass-red clover pasture per cow, and 1.25 acres of corn crop residues per cow during winter for spring- and fall-calving cows and stockers. First-cutting hay was harvested from the tall fescue-red clover and smooth bromegrass-red clover pastures to meet supplemental needs of cows and calves during winter. In the conventional system (called the minimal land system), spring-calving cows grazed smooth bromegrass-orchardgrass-birdsfoot trefoil pastures at 3.33 acres/cow during summer with first cutting hay removed from one-half of these acres. This hay was fed to these cows in a drylot during winter. All summer grazing was done by rotational stocking for both systems, and winter grazing of the corn crop residues and stockpiled forages for pregnant spring-calving cows and lactating fall-calving cows in the year-round system was managed by strip-stocking. Hay was fed to springcalving cows in both systems to maintain a mean body condition score of 5 on a 9-point scale, but was fed to fall-calving cows to maintain a mean body condition score of greater than 3. Over winter, fall-calving cows lost more body weight and condition than spring calving cows, but there were no differences in body weight or condition score change between spring-calving cows in either system. Fall- and spring-calving cows in the yearround grazing system required 934 and 1,395 lb. hay dry matter/cow for maintenance during the winter whereas spring-calving cows in drylot required 4,776 lb. hay dry matter/cow. Rebreeding rates were not affected by management system. Average daily gains of spring-born calves did not differ between systems, but were greater than fall calves. Because of differences in land areas for the two systems, weight production of calves per acre of cows in the minimal land system was greater than those of the year-round grazing system, but when the additional weight gains of the stocker cattle were considered, production of total growing animals did not differ between the two systems.

Keywords: ASL R1721

How to Cite:

Russell, J. R., Janovick, N., Strohbehn, D. R., Morrical, D. G., Barnhart, S. K., Maxwell, D. & Secor, L. J., (2001) “Integrating the Use of Spring- and Fall-Calving Beef Cows in a Year-round Grazing System (A Progress Report)”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 1(1).

Download pdf



Published on
01 Jan 2001
Peer Reviewed