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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: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/20/2016
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 hectare, but for life-cycle analysis 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 hectare in the Cross Timbers ecoregion. In 2011, a study was begun on 6 pastures (192 to 309 ha) with similar ecological site composition, typical of the Cross Timbers ecoregion in south-central Oklahoma. Three pastures received the patch-burn treatment, where approximately 1/3 of the pasture is burned in late winter each year on a 3-yr rotation (burned areas are not fenced separately). The other 3 pastures were not burned. Beginning in April each year, steers (approximately 250 kg) grazed for 3 months. Stocking was targeted to remove 40% of expected annual forage production from the grazeable area (approximately 2/3 of the total area). Steers were weighed individually 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. These average daily gains translate into gains per hectare (grazeable area) of 14.4 kg/ha for the unburned pastures and 18.5 kg/ha for the patch-burned pastures. Beef cattle performance and beef production were increased by nearly 30% with patch-burning compared to not burning in this 5 year study.