Submitted to: Proceedings from Dynamic Cropping Systems: Prinicples, Processes, and Challenges
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/15/2003
Publication Date: 8/4/2003
Citation: KARN, J.F., TANAKA, D.L., LIEBIG, M.A., RIES, R.E., KRONBERG, S.L., HANSON, J.D. INTEGRATING CROP AND BEEF CATTLE PRODUCTION IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS. Proceedings from Dynamic Cropping Systems: Prinicples, Processes, and Challenges. p. 262-264. 2003. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: In the Northern Great Plains, beef cows are the logical animal component in an integrated system and the winter feeding period is the logical time to use annual crops to help reduce feed costs. A project was conducted that included a three-year crop rotation designed to provide winter forage for beef cows with the option of marketing the grain either directly or through cattle. Crops used were oat/pea, triticale/sweet clover, and drilled corn. The project was designed so that all three crops were grown each year. The oat/pea and triticale crops were harvested for grain with the straw and chaff left in swaths for winter grazing. Corn was produced for forage and was swathed in mid- to late-September. The winter feeding period began in mid-November and ended in mid-February each year. Cows were rotationally grazed on the oat/pea and triticale crop residue early in the winter followed by the swathed corn in January and February when cow nutrient requirements were greater. Cows were supplemented with dry rolled oat/pea and triticale grain as needed. The performance of cows wintered in this manner was compared to cows fed hay in a drylot and cows that grazed swathed western wheatgrass. Over three years, cows on the crops treatment maintained their weight when grazing crop residue and gained weight when grazing swathed corn. However, over the full winter feeding period, cows fed hay in a drylot had slightly higher weight gains than the other two treatments, but cow condition scores and subsequent calving performance suggested that cows could be wintered on crop residue and swathed corn without adversely affecting their performance. Advantages of this winter feeding method are potentially lower feed costs, and elimination of manure handling problems.