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Title: Stocker cattle performance is greater when grazing patch-burned rather than unburned cross-timbers rangeland

item Moffet, Corey
item REUTER, RYAN - Oklahoma State University

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/6/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Land treatments such as prescribed burning alter forage quality in a pasture. Typically, recently-burned areas have greater crude protein and total digestible nutrients than unburned areas. Improved forage quality may reduce enteric methane emissions, improve animal performance, and increase beef production per acre, but for life-cycle analyses these effects need to be quantified. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of a 3-yr patch-burn rotation on cattle performance and gain per acre in cross-timbers vegetation. In 2011, a study was begun on 6 pastures (192 to 309 ha) with similar ecological site composition typical of southern Oklahoma cross-timbers vegetation. Three pastures received patch-burn treatment, where 1/3 is burned in late winter each year on a 3-yr rotation. The other 3 pastures were not burned. Beginning in April each year, steers (approximately 250 kg) grazed 3 months. Stocking was targeted to remove 40% of expected annual production in the grazeable area (approximately 2/3 of total area). Cattle were weighed on and off pastures following a 16-h drylot shrink. Over a 5-year period from 2011 through 2015, steers grazing unburned pasture gained 0.35 kg/d while steers grazing patch-burned pasture gained 0.45 kg/d. This average daily gain translated to an average of 14.4 kg/grazeable-acre for the unburned pasture and 18.5 kg/grazeable-acre for the patch-burned pasture. Beef cattle performance and beef production were increased by nearly 30% in this 5 year study.