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Winter Cover Crops Offer Beef Grazing

January 15, 2014
Grazing Cattle_Cover Crops
Cattle grazing on a cover crop can be beneficial for adding weight to a herd.   
 
 

Source: University of Missouri Extension News

Winter cover crops on corn and soybean acres are a natural fit for crop-and-beef farms.

Cover crops offer beef profit potential for the time between fall crop harvest and spring planting, says Rob Kallenbach. He gave his ideas in an interview before taking part in a three-state series of beef meetings.

He speaks Wednesday evening, Jan. 15, at the University of Missouri Hundley-Whaley Center, Albany.

Kallenbach, MU Extension forage agronomist, sees a natural fit for cover crops with spring-calving cow herds in northern Missouri, southern Iowa and eastern Nebraska.

The winter cover, which can be grasses, legumes, brassicas or a mix, offers extended grazing into winter for stocker calves.

Instead of selling calves in October, traditional market time for calves, they can be kept another 65 to 85 days.

Another 100 pounds of gain can be added to the calves. "Think what that means at today’s calf prices," Kallenbach adds.

In past stocker-calf budgets, extension specialists would plug in a dollar a pound for calculations. Now those gains can be worth double that.

Green growing forages offer some of the best nutrition for growing calves.

Kallenbach says he wants producers to realize the variety of cover crops available, and the best livestock to capitalize on that growth.

In a grazing study at Linneus, Mo., MU bred heifers gained body condition and 2 pounds a day on winter cover crops, he said.

Cover crops are being promoted for soil conservation and improved soil health.

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