Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



The Professional Animal Scientist 21 (2005):390–402


Studies across 5 yr involving 938 British-breed crossbred cattle (372 heifers, 566 steers) were used to evaluate the effects of grazing alternate summer and fall forages on slaughter breakeven cost of various beef production systems. Grazed summer forage combinations included 1) continuous brome, 2)brome and warm-season grasses, 3) brome and alfalfa or sudangrass, 4) brome and a monoculture of red clover, 5) red clover seeded in brome, 6) brome and Native Sandhills range, or 7) Sandhills range only. Grazed fall forages included 1) brome, 2) brome and turnips, 3) brome and rye, or 4) brome and cornstalks. Following grazing, the cattle were finished on a high-concentrate, corn-based finishing diet. The success of a grazing system was measured by slaughter breakeven cost analyses including all costs of production. The most consistent improvement in summer grazing BW gain compared with continuous brome and the most desirable slaughter breakeven costs were observed for cattle grazing brome and warm-season grasses or brome and Sandhills range. Using alfalfa or sudangrass in grazing systems improved (P<0.05) summer gains, but slaughter breakeven costs were greater (P<0.05) compared with cattle grazing brome. Improved summer gains and reduced slaughter breakeven costs when grazing a monoculture of red clover or red clover seeded in brome were inconsistent among years compared with cattle grazing brome. Reductions in slaughter breakeven costs by grazing fall forages were observed in years with adequate moisture for forage growth. Forages that maximized grazing gain had the greatest effect on reducing slaughter breakeven cost.