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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Forage & Livestock Production Research


To develop a knowledge base and guidelines for sustainable grazing-based livestock production systems which are based on a near-continuous supply of diverse, high-quality forages and to integrate forages into sustainable biomass and multi-purpose crop production systems.


Between 6 and 9 million stocker calves pass through the southern Great Plains annually.

Wheat-based stocker calf production is a very large proportion of that production.  There are 6 to 7 million acres of wheat in OK alone.  50 to 80% of those Oklahoma acres is grazed by 2 million stocker calves annually, with an economic value approaching $1 billion.


Why Not Wheat?

There are forage gaps; when producers must feed hay and supplements for 4 or 5 months of the year.

Its an annual crop requiring high inputs.

Wheat protein is poorly utilized, with high N content and low N metabolism.

Wheat is high in nitrates.

Specific approaches to our research are:

  1. Learn to manage these new forages, especially in terms of grazing (timing, duration, and intensity) and fertility (N).
  2. Document their value: livestock performance.
  3. Identify or develop perennial cool-season grasses and legumes which are well adapted, persistent, productive, palatable, and nutritious, to replace or supplement wheat.
  4. Integrate them into forage production systems.


Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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