Putting Cattle Out to Pasture Produces Quality BeefBy
Feeding cattle more grass still produces market-ready animals with
high-quality beef, according to results of a recent study at the
Scientists at the ARS Grazinglands
Research Laboratory in El Reno, Okla., compared the performance
of cattle from similar herds finished for market on grass with limited
grain versus those fed a diet high in grain--the traditional feedlot
In a 3-year study, ARS animal nutritionists William A. Phillips and
Samuel W. Coleman finished cattle using wheat pasture and perennial
grass pastures, such as Old World Bluestem. A high-energy supplement
composed mostly of corn was provided in a covered feeder to give
additional energy for fattening. The study showed beef cattle finish
as efficiently on grass pastures with the supplement as they would on
a mostly grain diet.
Less grain and more pasture means lower production costs for
producers. Under the grain- on-grass system, feed savings were around
$25 per animal. With four animals per acre, the producers grass
pasture is worth $100 per acre for finishing cattle--a significant
boost over traditional uses for the same grass.
Cattle finished in the pasture versus those finished in feedlots
have about the same end weight, but are about 3 percent less fat.
Cattle finished under either system would bring the producer the same
amount of money, but production costs are lower under the grain-on-
grass system, according to Coleman.
An article on this research appears in the June issue of Agricultural
Research magazine. The story is also on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contacts: William A. Phillips and Samuel W.
Coleman, ARS Grazinglands
Research Laboratory, El Reno, Okla.; phone (405) 262-5291, fax
(405) 262-0133, email@example.com,