Journal of NACAA

Using Management Intensive Grazing of Cover Crops to add another rotational crop in South Central Idaho

ISSN 2158-9429

Volume 16, Issue 2 - December 2023

Editor: Linda Chalker-Scott


Producers are showing a greater interest in cover crops as a forage source for grazing livestock. In a Western SARE project, a producer was looking at the use of cover crops as a forage source for stocker cattle from June – October. To accomplish this, a 148-acre pivot was seeded using a no-till drill with a cool-season mix of forage barley, forage oats, forage peas, common vetch, and purple top turnip the second week of May. To implement management-intensive grazing, 213 heifers of an average weight of 600 lbs were incorporated into the system 40 days after the initial cool season seeding. Forage samples were collected from the pasture before and immediately after grazing. The estimated forage production was 6,020 lbs DM/acre over the growing season. Forage consumption per acre over the season was 2,408 lbs DM/acre. From June-July the forage provided 16.2% crude protein (CP) and 58.6% total digestible nutrients (TDN), meeting the requirements for a 600 lbs yearling gaining 2.5 lbs/day for protein (11.8%) however it was lacking in TDN (66%). In this project, we saw adequate gains from spayed heifers while maintaining a growing cover crop from June – October.

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