Grazing Initiation Date and Stocking Rate Effects on Pasture Productivity
- William B. Bryan and
- Edward C. Prigge
Date of grazing initiation in spring and stocking rate have large effects on both animal and pasture productivity.A grazing experiment with yearling steers (Bos taurus L.; average 320 kg) was conducted in the growing season of three years to compare two dates of grazing initiation( differing by 2 wk)at three stocking rates (3, 4, and 5 steers ha−1) on set-stocked naturalized pasture in the AppalachiaUn SA. Pasture botanical composition, herbage mass and accumulation, and animal liveweight changes were measured. Early grazing initiation increased percentage grass in the pasture compared with late initiation. Crude protein concentration was higher, and acid- and neutral detergent fiber were lower in pastures on which grazing was initiated earlier. Herbage mass was > 33% more at the later grazing initiation date compared with the early initiation date. Earlier grazing initiation did not affect pasture dry matter accumulation or average daily gain but animal gain per hectare was almost 20% higher with earlier grazing. Stocking rate the previous year had no effect on botanical composition or herbage mass at initiation of grazing.A verage daily gain was highest at 4 steers ha−1 (0.81 kg) and lowest at 5 steers h−1 (0.62 kg)-Animal production per hectare was almost 50% greater at 4 steers ha−1 (358 kg) than at 3 steers h−1 (246 kg). We conclude that naturalized pasturei n Appalachcia an be grazed early without detrimental effects
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