Date of this Version
Redden, M. D. 2014. Grazing Method Effects on Forage Production, Utilization, and Animal Performance on Nebraska Sandhills Meadow. MS thesis, University of Nebraska.
Mob grazing using ultrahigh stocking densities is promoted as a tool to increase the health and productivity of grasslands by increasing nutrient cycling and soil organic matter. Mob grazing can be defined as a strategy in which area available to grazing animals is restricted to achieve stocking densities of 200,000 kg/ha or greater. Objectives were to determine herbage production, utilization, and cattle weight gains among ultrahigh stocking density grazing and more conventional grazing methods on a Sandhills subirrigated meadow. Treatments included two replications of each of the following: four-pasture rotational grazing with two occupations per pasture in an 80-day grazing season (4-PR-2), four-pasture rotational grazing with one occupation per pasture in a 60-day grazing season (4-PR-1), and a mob grazing system with one occupation per pasture in a 60-day grazing season (MOB). In each of the four years (2010 – 2013), yearling beef cattle grazed the 4-PR-2 from mid-May through early August and the 4-PR-1 and MOB treatments from early June through early August. Stocking rates were equal among treatments within years but varied among years dependent on forage production. Stock densities were 225,000 kg/ha, 7000 kg/ha, and 5000 kg/ha for the MOB, 4-PR-1, and 4-PR-2 respectively. Herbage mass in grazing exclosures was used to estimate aboveground production in 2012 and 2013. Trampling and harvest efficiency were estimated every other week in the MOB and each time cattle changed pastures in the 4-PR-1 and 4-PR-2 during 2010, 2011, and 2013. Aboveground production did not differ among treatments. Average daily gains of MOB were low (0.2 kg/head/day) compared to 4-PR-2 gains (0.8 kg/head/day). Low gains on the MOB pastures likely were related to high levels of trampling and poor forage quality late in the grazing season.
Advisors: Walter H. Schacht and Jerry D. Volesky