2012 Annual Report
Objective 1. Produce a 12-month supply of pasture-based beef by expanding the harvest window with retention of acceptable meat quality.
Subobjective 1.1. Evaluate the use of variation in frame scores of sire and dams and different creep grazing systems to expand the harvest window of grass-fed beef.
Subobjective 1.2.3. Alternative forage species and nitrogen sources.
Objective 2. Develop criteria for pasture raised beef that define “the window of acceptability”.
Subobjective 2.1. Quantify performance efficiency of cattle in pasture-based forage systems.
Subobjective 2.1.1. Estimate residual feed intake (RFI) of forage-fed cattle. Subobjective 2.1.2. Quantify actual intake of grazing cattle during finishing. Subobjective 2.1.5. Identify life cycle risk factors relevant to meat quality.
Subobjective 2.2. Define “window of acceptability” by relating animal production systems, meat quality and consumer parameters.
Objective 3. Identify management and nutritional strategies for minimizing weaning stress in calves.
Subobjective 3.1. Evaluate ability of high quality forage to minimize post weaning weight gain.
Subobjective 3.2. Evaluate the effect of alternative weaning techniques on cattle behavior and stress markers.
Subobjective 3.3. Characterize relationship between cattle behavior and carcass quality.
Objective 4. Develop tools for pasture-based beef producers to assess and manage risk.
Subobjective 4.1. Establish the impact of continuous-use pasture on disease incidence and weight gain of young stock.
Experiments will be conducted in the field on cow-calf production systems, weaning systems, and backgrounding systems. Risk reduction in pasture-based livestock production will be evaluated relative to forage species and nitrogen sources. Potential production losses from internal parasites on continuous-use pastures will be estimated from data under controlled conditions. Economic data from ethnic demand for pasture-finished products will be evaluated. Weaned calves will be provided to the other cooperators for completion of their phases of the project.
Development of the project database continued. Detailed documentation of the structure and content of the database was completed. Additional forage and animal performance data were entered in the database, with particular focus on developing a robust inventory system for tracking animal movements throughout their lifetime. A data export function was designed and implemented to allow relationships between grazing intervals and forage quality and quantity in a rotational grazing system to be investigated.