ABSTRACT: Stocking rate is a fundamental variable for managing pastures, and there is a distinct relationship between stocking rate and animal performance for each forage type. This research was conducted to determine the effects of fall stocking rate (SR) and method of establishment of wheat pasture planted into dedicated crop fields on animal performance during the fall and subsequent spring. There was a factorial arrangement of tillage methods used in the establishment of wheat pasture and fall stocking rates. Tillage treatments included 1) CT, seed sown into a prepared seedbed, 2) RT, a single pass with a light disk followed by broadcasting of seed, or 3) NT, direct seeding into the undisturbed stubble of the grazed-out wheat pasture from the previous year. The fixed SR during the fall were 1.9, 2.5, and 3.7 growing beef steers (Bos taurus L.)/ha. In the spring all pastures were grazed at the same fixed SR by steers for graze out. Data were analyzed using the mixed procedure of SAS as a randomized complete block design with field as the experimental unit and year as the block. Forage mass, forage nutritive composition, and animal performance during the fall or spring were not affected (P ≥ 0.14) by tillage method. During the fall grazing season, with increasing SR there were linear (P < 0.01) decreases in BW of steers upon removal from pasture, BW gain per steer, and ADG, whereas grazing-day per hectare and BW gain per hectare increased linearly (P < 0.01) with increasing SR. The carryover effects of fall SR into the spring grazing season decreased (P< 0.01) grazing-day per hectare and tended (P ≤ 0.09) to produce quadratic changes in BW upon removal from pasture and BW gain per hectare. Across the fall and spring grazing seasons, grazing-day per hectare increased linearly (P < 0.01) with greater SR, and BW gain per hectare increased quadratically (P = 0.02) with increased fall SR. A tillage treatment by fall SR interaction (P = 0.10) indicates that although there was no difference (P ≥ 0.12) due to tillage treatment in BW gain per hectare at 1.9 or 2.5 SR, NT fields produced (P ≤ 0.04) more BW gain per hectare than CT or RT at the 3.7 SR. Although increasing SR of growing steers leads to reduced animal performance in the fall and reduced carrying capacity in the spring, NT appears to be capable of withstanding greater fall SR with less impact on total production per hectare than CT or RT.
Journal of Animal Science 05/2012; 90(9):3286-93. · 2.10 Impact Factor