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Grazing Management

The new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair will connect the study of soils, plants, animals, economics, and ecosystems. (Photo: Cassidy Sim).

Effective grazing management on pastures not only ensures high forage yield, sustainability, animal health and productivity, all of which impact cost of production, it also benefits the pasture ecosystem.  Innovations in pasture management give producers greater control to support the environment (e.g. biodiversity) but also allow them to better use pasture resources for food production.

Pasture is a critical resource in the cattle industry. An effective management plan requires good understanding of pasture production, realistic production goals, effective grazing strategies and timely response to forage availability and environmental changes. Managing grazing lands so that they are productive and persist over time requires knowing when to graze certain species, if they can withstand multiple grazings/cuttings within a single year and how much recovery time is needed to prevent overgrazing (which is a matter of time not intensity).

Animal Health and Performance

Pasture management can affect animal health. For example, some rapidly growing pastures lack certain dietary inputs, such as roughage, dry matter and various minerals that are important for good rumen function and maximum production. This can lead to animal health issues associated with mineral deficiencies, as well as scouring and bloat, which limit weight gain and in extreme cases can cause death.[1]

A study completed in 2006[2] showed that selection of genetically improved sainfoin varieties could produce…

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