Integration of Livestock on Annual Crop Land

Project Title

Integration of Livestock on Annual Crop Land


Emma Mcgeough (Univeristy of Manitoba)

Yvonne Lawley (Co-Investigator; University of Manitoba), Kim Schneider (Co-Investigator; University of Guelph), Katie Wood (University of Guelph), Jillian Bainard (AAFC Agassiz), Aklilu Alemu (AAFC Swift Current), Bart Lardner (University of Saskatchewan), Tristan Skolrud (University of Saskatchewan), and Kathy Larson (University of Saskatchewan)

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in March, 2028 FRG.14.21C


With tilled acres increasing across Canada, cattle producers are seeking more economical ways to compete for valuable feed resources. There is interest among both cattle and crop producers to use cattle to graze farmland, with the potential being that beef producers get access to feed and crop farmers get manure deposited on their farmland. While this approach demonstrates good promise, there is often hesitation due to logistical barriers for both farmers and cattle producers as well as uncertainty from both around the value and tradeoffs. Concerns remain around how to value either sides contribution and which types of cropping systems work best.  


  • To improve the resiliency of beef cattle production through the use of novel grazing strategies in spring and late summer/early fall utilizing annual forages and cover crops to better meet animal nutrient requirements and understand the impact of grazing on the plant-animal-soil interface.

What they will do

Researchers will start with a survey to both farmers and cattle producers to assess farm-level concerns and willingness to participate in integrated arrangements, and what level of savings they would need to experience to do so.

Next, researchers will use small plots to evaluate the agronomic value of spring and fall seeded annual crops under a range of soil/climatic conditions with sites in BC (Agassiz), SK (Swift Current, Clavet), Manitoba (Winnipeg, Carman) and ON (Elora). Each site will look at fall and spring seeding winter cereals, and overwintering legumes with winter cereals as well as spring/summer season seeding of C3 grasses, legume, broadleaves and C4 grasses in monocultures, 2-4 species mixtures, and 8+ species mixtures. Researchers will evaluate crop establishment and yield and quality of the crops will be determined at different maturities for potential as cattle feed.

Based on the outcomes of the small plot study, 2-3 of the best performing treatments at each site will undergo grazing trials at U of M, U of G and the U of S in late summer/early fall (Guelph will also have a spring grazing trial) where cattle will be allowed to graze and animal performance (and related parameters such as feed intake and methane emissions), crop performance and soil measures will be evaluated. Soil performance and plant performance will be evaluated against grazing exclusion areas in each pasture.

Following grazing, in Year 4 a corn crop will be planted to evaluate how grazing annual crops affects subsequent crop performance and soil health. Additionally, they will also evaluate the greenhouse gas footprint of integrated annual crop/livestock grazing using whole-farm model.

Lastly, the economic viability of integrated annual crop/livestock grazing will be evaluated in a cost and return analysis. The researchers will also develop a decision-making tool for both crop and livestock producers.


This study will help us better understand the pros and cons of integrating grazing cattle on crop land.