View Poster Application

Effects of Cattle Removal Date on Sustainability of Cool-Season Annual Grazed Cover Crop Systems 

Applied Research

Leanne Dillard
Forage Extension Specialist
Alabama Coopertaive Extension System
Auburn University


Grazing of cool-season cover crops has been shown to be a viable tool in extending the grazing season while mitigating environmental risks associated with row crop farming systems. Grazing cover crops is not  novel, but most information available on this practice focuses on soil health as opposed to forage production and animal performance. The objective was to evaluate the effects of cattle removal date on steer performance, forage yield, and forage quality. Twelve 1.2-ha pastures were established in a forage mix consisting of ‘Cosaque’ oats (Avena strigose), ‘FL401’ cereal rye (Secale cereal), ‘AU Sunrise’ crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum), and ‘T-raptor’ brassica (Brassica napus × B. rapa) and randomly allocated to be grazed through either mid-February (FEB), mid-March (MAR), or mid-April (APR) with an un-grazed control (CON). Three tester steers were randomly placed in each paddock with the exception of CON and allowed ad libitum grazing. Animals were weighed every 30 d for determination of average daily gain (ADG). Forage was harvested bi-weekly and analyzed for average yield, NDF, ADF, and CP. All data were analyzed using MIXED procedure of SAS version 9.4 (SAS Inst., Cary, NC). The following data represents the complete four-year project. Differences in yield were detected between CON and FEB (3,913 vs. 5,284 lb/acre; P < 0.001), CON and MAR (3,913 vs. 4,206 lb/acre; P < 0.001), and CON and APR (3,913 vs. 5,698 lb/acre; P < 0.001). No differences were detected among grazing treatments for forage allowance, grazing days per hectare, stocking density, NDF, or ADF. No differences were detected among treatments for initial BW, ADG, or BW gain per acre. These results indicate that grazing will reduce covercrop yield, but removal date of cattle will not further affect forage yield or steer average daily gain. After four years, cattle removal date did not impact soil compaction.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

Click to view Poster

Authors: Leanne Dillard, Mason Henson, Russell Carrell, Kim Mullenix, Audrey Gamble, Russ Muntifering
  1. Dillard, L. Forage Extension Specialist, Alabama Cooperative Extension, Alabama, 36849
  2. Henson, M. PhD Student, Auburn University, Alabama, 36849
  3. Carrell, R. PhD Student, Auburn University, Alabama, 36849
  4. Mullenix, K. Extension Specialist, Alabama Cooperative Extension, Alabama, 36849
  5. Gamble, A. Assistant Professor, Auburn University, Alabama, 36849
  6. Muntifering, R. Professor, Auburn University, Alabama, 36849