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Stocker Cattle Response to Grazing Management in Tallgrass Prairie

F. Ted McCollum, III, Robert L. Gillen, Brock R. Karges and Mark E. Hodges
Journal of Range Management
Vol. 52, No. 2 (Mar., 1999), pp. 120-126
DOI: 10.2307/4003504
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4003504
Page Count: 7
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Stocker Cattle Response to Grazing Management in Tallgrass Prairie
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Abstract

The effects of stocking rate and grazing method on performance of yearling beef cattle grazing tallgrass prairies in north-central Oklahoma were evaluated from 1989 to 1994. Pastures dominated by big bluestem [Andropogon gerardii Vitman], little bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash], and indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash], were allocated to either short duration rotational or continuous stocking methods and stocking rates ranging from 52 animal-unit-days (AUD) ha-1 to 90 AUD ha-1 Steers grazed the units from late April to late September. Precipitation was above average during the study period. Live weight gain per head was higher under continuous stocking than rotational stocking at all stocking rates. At 52 AUD ha-1, individual gains under rotational stocking were 11% less than under continuous stocking. At 90 AUD ha-1, individual gains under rotational stocking were decreased by 20%. Measurements of steer diets and forage standing crop suggest the reduction in weight gain was due to reduced forage intake under rotational stocking. Live weight gain per hectare increased with stocking rate and was higher with continuous stocking at all stocking rates. Net returns per hectare increased as stocking rate increased for both stocking methods but were lower for rotational stocking at all stocking rates. Variable costs per head would have to decrease by 24 to 34% under rotational stocking to equalize net returns between the 2 grazing methods. Unless the decline in gain per head can be reduced or eliminated, there is no economic incentive to implement rotational stocking under the conditions of this study. /// De 1989 a 1994, se evaluaron los efectos de la carga animal y el método de apacentamiento en el comportamiento de novillos para carne apacentando praderas de zacates altos en la región norte-central de Oklahoma. Los potreros dominados por "Big Bluestem" [Andropogon gerardii Vitam]. "Little bluestem" [Schizachyruim scoparium (Mitch) Nash] e "Indiangrass" [Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash] fueron asignados a los métodos de apacentamiento rotacional de corta duración y continuo, con cargas animal que fluctuaron de 52 a 90 unidades-animal-día (UAD) ha-1. Los novillos apacentaron las unidades de fines de Abril a fines de Septiembre. Durante el período de estudio la precipitación fue superior al promedio. La ganacia de peso vivo por cabeza, en todas las carga animal, fue mayor en el método continuo que en el rotacional. Con 52 UAD ha-1 las ganacias individuales bajo el método rotacional fueron 11% menos que las del método continuo. Con 90 UAD ha-1 las ganacias individuales bajo el método rotacional decrecieron en 20%. Mediciones de la dieta de los novillos y de forraje en pie sugieren que la reducción en la ganacia de peso se debió a un consumo reducido de forraje bajo el método rotacional. La ganacia de peso por hectárea se incrementó con la carga animal y fue mayor con el método continuo para todas las cargas animal. En ambos métodos de apacentamiento los retornos netos por hectárea se incrementaron conforme la carga animal aumento, pero fueron menores para el método rotacional en todas las cargas animal. Para tener retornos netos iguales en los dos sistemas de apacentamiento, los costos variables por cabeza deberían disminuir de 24 a 34% en el método rotacional. A menos de que la disminución de la ganancia de peso por cabeza pudíera ser reducida o eliminada, no hay incentivo económico para implementar el método rotacional bajo las condiciones en las que se llevó a cabo el estudio.

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