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Prudent Use Of Pasture

Just as the saying goes “it takes money to make money” it is the same with grass “it takes grass to make grass.” What you leave behind at the end of the grazing season will ultimately determine what your yield potential will be the next year.

Determining a suitable utilization rate can be a bit tricky but here are some general guidelines:

Light soil/low rainfall: 30-50 per cent

Riparian areas: 0-40 per cent

Native forages: Up to 50 per cent

Tame forages: 55-75 per cent

If you use a utilization rate above the plant community’s ability to cope then be prepared for weed invasion, lower forage production and replacement of your valuable forage species with less palatable and less productive species.

Dry matter intake

As animal size increases so does their need for more feed. Cattle will eat between 1.5 and 3.5 per cent of their body weight per day on a dry matter (DM) basis. The palatability, nutrient profile and availability of the feed determines where along this scale the cattle will fall.

2.5 per cent is commonly used for cows with calf. The calf does not need to be accounted for until it has grown to 600 lbs.

3.0 per cent is commonly used for grassers.

At three per cent, a 750-pound steer will eat 22.5 pounds of dry matter daily. At 2.5 per cent, 1,850-pound cow will consume 45 pounds of dry matter per day.

The mature, large cow will eat more than twice as much as the steer even though she consumes less feed as a per cent of her body weight.

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