The Forage Chain-- Grass Finishing

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edrsimms

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Bottom line:
1. You must have some grass-fed genetics
2. You must choose a phase of operation that best suits your forage base.
3. You must fully understand the forage chain
4. You must fully understand plant physiology
5. You must somewhat understand ruminant nutrition.

The forage chain is not easily accomplished as you must be competent in soils and plant physiology just to name a few. Soil health(ab)> quality forages> optimum nutrition and health for your cattle.

a) Soil Tilth-- is the measurement of the balance between basic soil elements: mineral, air, water and organic matter. The proper balance of these elements increases soil production by allowing efficient interaction of all the soil systems. Air and water balance is the key to good root growth.
b) pH -- without the proper pH soil nutrients will not be able to provide the needed growth you will need in a forage-based operation.

If you dont have 1, 4, 5, a or b dont read any further as this will not pertain to you.

Finishing on Forage (optimum soil)
The biggest problem is being able to provide high quality forages over a 12 month period with no gaps in their sequence or production. You must have linear growth and not the bimodal growth we often see between the seasons (bimodal= like a rollercoasters ups and downs)
This is done by overlapping your forage base-- difficult at times, but becomes easier with experience.

My example is a calf born in Oct weaned in May (7-8 mos) placed on Millet from 8 to 12 mos; placed on cereal grains month13 and 14 and Clover the 15th and 16th months (finished).

This represents a growth rate that is Linear and not bimodal. As the calf matures and nutritional requirements increase the forage always increases in feed value. Other variables include the individual growth rate and sex of the calf, to name a few. We can normally finish a grass-fed genetic calf in less than 16 months.

Ok the football game is on in a few minutes, more later--- Texas vs Wyoming------------
After the OU sux loss last week to BYU all I need now for complete satisfaction this year is to see the goat-herding aggies of college station to lose to OkSU, OU, AR, KSU, Baylor, and we all know they will lose miserably to U of Texas as always this Thanksgiving --- HOOKEM HORNS

Ed
 

IluvABbeef

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Linear growth, in your example, to me means growth from emergence to flourescence to senescence. That doesn't make any sense to me.

See, in order to finish steers or any stockers on pasture is to have a constant forage source. Which you mentioned. Which helps with the intensive grazing scheme. MIG follows a more bimodal curve of growth than linear, because, for one, you are grazing when the grass is in vegetative stage, grazed to, depending on conditions and time of year, 30% standing or 40% standing (with 2 or 3 inches of "stubble" left in the paddock), then the grass is allowed to regrow for approximately 30 days or more, then regrazed again. This is a bimodal curve, and the best way to graze. It keeps up the high-quality forages without going the more "linear" route and continuous grazing with patchy spots, which I assume you are referring to, and is the most easiest and most effective route to grass-finishing.

Grass in the vegetative stage (past 4 to 5 leaf stage) to flowering has more quality and nutrition than grass that is just emerging or grass that has gone to seed and is dying. The bimodal curve, with grass regrowth after intense grazing, works.

Now a constant forage resource only works for those who CAN pasture 365 days a year. With the northern areas, this doesn't work so well. Thus, hay or crops in the forms of swath grazing, bale grazing, or stockpiling are the best ways to "pasture" cattle through the winter months. But even then sometimes those don't work out as well and there has to be a Plan B or Plan C; with plan C most likely feeding roughage in the dry lot for the rest of the winter.

In your example, I assume you are assuming the calf is in a continuous-grazing scheme where grass is grazed from vegetative stage to death. One of the least effective means of grass-finishing a stocker. Stockers need a higher plane of nutrition than cows, and with that, continuous grazing leaves the calf only to choose the choiciest bits of grass for the first few weeks, then when that runs out, they have to go for the second-favorite and on the way down until pasture runs out. Not only does this ruin pastures, but it encourages growth of other plants (i.e noxious weeds) that grow in the spots that replace the over-grazed areas, plus you get an uneven distribution of plant growth; not good for root health.

Typically sex of the animal more has to do with the age of maturity. Bulls need a high nutrition plane on grass than cows; and for cows it varies with what stage of gestation/lactation they are in. Individual needs/growth rate have nothing to do with it either; only when selecting for "grass-fed genetics" like you stressed in the breeding herd. THE variables that DO count in grass-finishing operations are age of stockers, soil quality, stage of grass-growth, climate/precipitation, rate of gain/intake per day, adequate stocking rate, and, but less so, sex of the stockers in question. In this case, steers and heifers have no problem grazing together at the same nutrient quality at the same rate of gain; the heifers might gain a little more fat than the steers, or be slower at gaining compared with steers, but it's not like you have to have them at different nutrient levels than each other. For replacements, that is a little more of a concern, thus they'd be grazing with the cows instead of with the steers.

Looking at an age graph of a stocker animal, nutrition requirements DECREASE as the animal gets older; particularly with protein and energy. It's only when fattening up a stocker that animal nutrition requirements should remain the same or increase slightly, depending on the time of season and the stage the forage is in.

Now a question for you: Why, through my skimming through your other posts, are you so strongly against grain feeding but suddenly you reccommend cereal grains? Don't you want GRASS-ONLY fed cattle? Just wondering. :)
 
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edrsimms

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It is good that you have somewhat of an understanding of MIG and controlled grazing, but I wasn't explaining the "How" part of this business-- just the "What" to do part. Most of you guys here consider finishing weight cattle in terms of a heavy stocker when in reality they are an entirely different class of livestock. The difference in in stocker cattle weight gain comprises flesh and bone and the majority of the finishing cattle's weight gain is fat. you can grow flesh with protien but you need energy (carbohydrates) to produce fat. as a result, high protein forages with low energy levels can produce high stocker gains, but are a total bust with finishing animals. When finishing cattle on forage you want protien and carbohydrates to be in balance. Fat requires the forage to be highly digestible and rich in soluble carbohydrates-- as I have said before. Actually this rate of gain is linear and NOT BIMODAL. Bimodal refers to your paddocks between grazing events and not to be confused with GAIN.
 
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edrsimms

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The essential characteristics of a good fattening grass-fed steer is wide-strong short head; short thick neck; deep wide chest indicates constitution; and a deep roomy barrel indicates capacity; deep covering of muscle; even distribution of fat. Cattle should be bred for early maturity otherwise they will grow rather than fatten and the cost of production will exceed their value.

The large body phenotype of grain-fed genetics won't work in a grass finishing program as they typically are an animal with a long narrow head; long legs or shallow body and will not alter his "type" by fattening. A steer with a high tail, or prominent hook bones will finish into a fat steer with those same defficiencies.

by M Gravlee on Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:00 pm

As somebody said "we are really just grass farmers that use cattle to harvest our crops".

Well some of us are-- and some of us like a bucket instead
Ed
 

IluvABbeef

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edrsimms":23ygkby5 said:
It is good that you have somewhat of an understanding of MIG and controlled grazing, but I wasn't explaining the "How" part of this business-- just the "What" to do part. Most of you guys here consider finishing weight cattle in terms of a heavy stocker when in reality they are an entirely different class of livestock. The difference in in stocker cattle weight gain comprises flesh and bone and the majority of the finishing cattle's weight gain is fat. you can grow flesh with protien but you need energy (carbohydrates) to produce fat. as a result, high protein forages with low energy levels can produce high stocker gains, but are a total bust with finishing animals. When finishing cattle on forage you want protien and carbohydrates to be in balance. Fat requires the forage to be highly digestible and rich in soluble carbohydrates-- as I have said before. Actually this rate of gain is linear and NOT BIMODAL. Bimodal refers to your paddocks between grazing events and not to be confused with GAIN.


IluvABbeef":23ygkby5 said:
Linear growth, in your example, to me means growth from emergence to flourescence to senescence. That doesn't make any sense to me.
linear growth = continued increase in GAIN
See, in order to finish steers or any stockers on pasture is to have a constant forage source. Which you mentioned.
(which is a linear or straight line with a positive (+) slope) Which helps with the intensive grazing scheme.
MIG follows a more bimodal curve of growth than linear, because, for one, you are grazing when the grass is in vegetative stage, grazed to, depending on conditions and time of year, 30% standing or 40% standing (with 2 or 3 inches of "stubble" left in the paddock), then the grass is allowed to regrow for approximately 30 days or more, then regrazed again.
You are talking forage growth over a 21 to 30 day growth period IN A PADDOCK and I am talking about GAIN of calves on forage, which needs to be linear. You cannot have the bimodal instances of nutritional availability for CONTINUED GROWTH

This is a bimodal curve, and the best way to graze. It keeps up the high-quality forages without going the more "linear" route and continuous grazing with patchy spots, which I assume you are referring to, and is the most easiest and most effective route to grass-finishing.Again you are talking forage availability in a paddock over time and I am talking about nutrition FOR CALVES FROM WEANING TO FINISH

Grass in the vegetative stage (past 4 to 5 leaf stage) to flowering has more quality and nutrition than grass that is just emerging or grass that has gone to seed and is dying. The bimodal curve, with grass regrowth after intense grazing, works.Again you are talking about the paddock and not about GAIN

Well thank you for explaining what you meant. I thought you were referring to the method of grazing pastures, not rate of gain. My bad. If only you would've explained more so in your OP instead of assuming we can read your mind. :)

Now a constant forage resource only works for those who CAN pasture 365 days a year. Pastures in my example, which you should have noticed was a forage chain of summer annuals, winter annuals, winter perennials etc.. You know what? This still refers to the areas that are more successful at grazing 365 days a year, without as much a hard winter as the northern USA or Canada gets, regardless to your forage chain. This sentence goes hand-in-hand with what I said below. Read on.
With the northern areas, this doesn't work so well. Thus, hay or crops in the forms of swath grazing, bale grazing, or stockpiling are the best ways to "pasture" cattle through the winter months. But even then sometimes those don't work out as well and there has to be a Plan B or Plan C; with plan C most likely feeding roughage in the dry lot for the rest of the winter.

In your example, I assume you are assuming the calf is in a continuous-grazing scheme where grass is grazed from vegetative stage to death. No, we limit graze, daily because a calf can meet its nutritional requirement on high quality forage in just a few hours per day One of the least effective means of grass-finishing a stocker. Stockers need a higher plane of nutrition than cows, and with that, continuous grazing leaves the calf only to choose the choiciest bits of grass for the first few weeks, then when that runs out, they have to go for the second-favorite and on the way down until pasture runs out. Not only does this ruin pastures, but it encourages growth of other plants (i.e noxious weeds) that grow in the spots that replace the over-grazed areas, plus you get an uneven distribution of plant growth; not good for root health.

Typically sex of the animal more has to do with the age of maturity. no, heifers will finish at a different rate than steers
Why are you correcting me here? You should wait until you've read the other sentence, then comment. I am not referring to steers vs heifers, read below.

Bulls need a high nutrition plane on grass than cows;and for cows it varies with what stage of gestation/lactation they are in. Individual needs/growth rate have nothing to do with it either; only when selecting for "grass-fed genetics" like you stressed in the breeding herd. I am not finishing the broodcow and not finishing bulls, so this is irrelevant
I don't care, it was just a sidenote, irrelevant or not.

THE variables that DO count in grass-finishing operations are age of stockers, soil quality, stage of grass-growth, climate/precipitation, rate of gain/intake per day, adequate stocking rate, and, but less so, sex of the stockers in question. heifers normally finish faster than steers Of course they do, quit chomping at the bit here.

In this case, steers and heifers have no problem grazing together at the same nutrient quality at the same rate of gain;
the heifers might gain a little more fat than the steers, or be slower at gaining compared with steers,
you contradict yourself here, from the above paragraph-- so which is it make up your mind but it's not like you have to have them at different nutrient levels than each other. For replacements, that is a little more of a concern, thus they'd be grazing with the cows instead of with the steers. not talking about replacements, so this is irrelevant too
How am I contradicting myself? Please explain, you are really good at saying I'm wrong but never explain WHY. I said LESS SO in the above paragraph. Does that mean anything to you? And I was just including replacements as a sidenote, irrelevant or not.

Looking at an age graph of a stocker animal, nutrition requirements DECREASE as the animal gets older; particularly with protein and energy. this is just incorrect, nutritional requirements do not decrease as a calf gets older (which means closer to fInishing) -- back to school for you, (laughs) Laugh all you want, I wish you would have the nerve to post some research that contradicts what I say, instead if just saying I'm wrong but never proving your point. What I meant here was that as an animal gets older, it is maturing. Thus, crude protein requirements, for instance, decrease as the animal increases in maturity. It IS however, different in a finishing operation since the fundamental goal is to fatten. BUT, the protein requirement for stockers, calcium percentage requirements and phosphorus requirements DECREASE as they get older aka get heavier. But I think the thing that you are getting confused with is the RATE OF INTAKE AND energy requirements. It is the rate of INTAKE plus ENERGY (a.k.a CHOs) that increases as an animal matures, not nutrient requirements. Besides, I've been to school long enough thanks, I sure as heII don't need to go back to it again.

It's only when fattening up a stocker that animal nutrition requirements should remain the same or increase slightly, depending on the time of season and the stage the forage is in. (not talking about stockers-- we are talking about finishing, see you cannot treat the grain-fed genetic stocker like a grass-fed genetic calf in the finishing stage-- you are talking apples and oranges again)
I am not. Stockers are ALSO what you would call cattle being finished on grass-fed or grass-finished or grass-whateveryouwanttocallit diet. The terms all remain the same nonetheless. Besides, what do YOU call steers or heifers on a grass-finishing operation? Not grass-finishing steers or grass-finishing heifers, that's just too much of a mouthful; gotta be something more simple than that! :D Besides, there is a difference between FEEDER steers and STOCKER steers. Stocker steers refer to steers that are being backgrounded on pasture. FEEDER steers refer to steers that are being backgrounded in the feedlot. So, I am sure that Stockers also mean steers/heifers being FINISHED on pasture, don't you? It's not comparing apples to oranges: it's comparing Macintosh Apples to Golden Apples. :)

Now a question for you: Why, through my skimming through your other posts, are you so strongly against grain feeding but suddenly you reccommend cereal grains? GRAZING CEREAL GRAINS LIKE BARLEY, RYE, ETC Don't you want GRASS-ONLY fed cattle? Just wondering. :)

You didn't really answer my question, just skipped around it. I know what cereal grains are dummy, I'm not that thick. But I want a full and honest and DIRECT answer from you. Okay? I'll make it easy for you and rephrase the question: Why are you so strongly against grain feeding, but turn around and start recommending that the grass-finished animal's diet also include cereal grains? Isn't it supposed to be STRICTLY grass-fed, according to your other posts?

I have to go to bed: gotta work for my "grain-feeding endorsing" boss tomorrow. ;-)

Have a good night! :D
 

TexasBred

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Ok the football game is on in a few minutes, more later--- Texas vs Wyoming------------
After the OU sux loss last week to BYU all I need now for complete satisfaction this year is to see the goat-herding aggies of college station to lose to OkSU, OU, AR, KSU, Baylor, and we all know they will lose miserably to U of Texas as always this Thanksgiving --- HOOKEM HORNS

I'm sure we'll accomodate you on this "satisfaction". We turn out "bosses, veterinarians, nutritionist, engineers"..... not jocks who can't read or write when they're 25.
 

KMacGinley

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He is talking about grazing rye, wheat, barley, oats etc. in the vegetative stage before they go to grain. They are high in sugars which is good for grass feeding as they have a high brix content. Starches which come from grain are not acceptable as they tend to increase the Omega 6 fatty acids in the meat. Hope this helps.
 

brandonm_13

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IluvABbeef , I'm going to go out on a limb, and assume he means the cereal grains while they are in the vegetative state(I admit I didn't actually go back and check his posts). This would either be grazing them, harvesting them for hay/silage (some sources won't allow silage as grassfed though), but not just the dried seedheads.
 

IluvABbeef

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KMacGinley & brandonm_13: Well I hope that's what he's trying to go for, and not something else. Even though I'd like to hear an explanation from Ed himself, thanks for that you two.
 
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edrsimms

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TY Kmac, maybe barleyfedaltabeef will read that.
Ed

KMacGinley":3q8u3v3c said:
He is talking about grazing rye, wheat, barley, oats etc. in the vegetative stage before they go to grain. They are high in sugars which is good for grass feeding as they have a high brix content. Starches which come from grain are not acceptable as they tend to increase the Omega 6 fatty acids in the meat. Hope this helps.
 
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edrsimms

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Anyone like you Altabeef, that cant understand the relationship between peak milk and the 1st trimester is too far in left field to understand my posts. You are clueless and in time you will learn, so just keep reading or you may want to sit my posts out competely.
Ed
 
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edrsimms

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TexasBred --I am just giving you a hard time about being an Aggie-- surely you have heard it all before and don't take it sooo personal -- it is not like you Aggies to be so emotional.
Ed
 

apical meristem

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Goat herding Aggies and Red Raiders know they can sell weanling goats for 200 cwt ($4.00 per hanging weight equivalent) wholesale in less than a year from conception to sale and not even worry about grazing grass fed cattle for 20 months plus 9 1/2 months gestation.
 
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edrsimms

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I guess you guys in Lubbock would know more about goats and goat-herding and even less about grass-finishing beef cattle because last time I looked there wasn't much grass between Texline, Amarillo, Palo Duro, Slayton and Muleshoe, unless you count the 1/2 acre in Denver City, TX that might hold a few spanish goats in a good to excellent year.
 

apical meristem

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I guess you guys in Lubbock would know more about goats and goat-herding and even less about grass-finishing beef cattle because last time I looked there wasn't much grass between Texline, Amarillo, Palo Duro, Slayton and Muleshoe, unless you count the 1/2 acre in Denver City, TX that might hold a few spanish goats in a good to excellent year.

Which is why I am grateful for life north of the Gulfo and east of the Trinity, but I am not so arrogant to dump on our friends west of the Trinity. Obviously you haven't been at this for very long if you don't remember of have already forgotten the drought in 2005-2006. The millet and clover wouldn't grow, and barely the cereals, even for us east of the Trinity.

Ed, I hope you live in the golden triangle and have some gas wells and get some land appreciation, because you are going to need both for all the money you are spending.

Really, you should call Jim Gerrish and have him come out to your place so he can give you a better idea of the economics of grass finishing. He might be in Texas this fall.
 

TexasBred

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edrsimms":2mefd408 said:
TexasBred --I am just giving you a hard time about being an Aggie-- surely you have heard it all before and don't take it sooo personal -- it is not like you Aggies to be so emotional.
Ed

Did I show any emotion? Not of the negative sort anyway. First thing you're taught as an Aggie is to laugh at yourself. Lord knows we have more than enough opportunities. :lol2:
 

IluvABbeef

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edrsimms":2us9z5h9 said:
TY Kmac, maybe barleyfedaltabeef will read that.
Ed

KMacGinley":2us9z5h9 said:
He is talking about grazing rye, wheat, barley, oats etc. in the vegetative stage before they go to grain. They are high in sugars which is good for grass feeding as they have a high brix content. Starches which come from grain are not acceptable as they tend to increase the Omega 6 fatty acids in the meat. Hope this helps.

I did in fact read that; perhaps you didn't see my post right above your own? :roll: :roll:
 
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edrsimms

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Looks like the aggies handled Utah State which was a little sloppy-- as was The University of Texas' Game against the red goatherders... But they always show up to play-- so I am glad to send them packing out of Austin. That TTU Qb is a whiner lol and boy did he get hammered in Austin.

I am hopeful that the aggies can at least attend a Bowl Game this year. They are still playing some cupcakes yet with UAB next week -- should be a sleeper. they may have a chance with AR at Kyle Field; I think OKSt will destroy A&M; as will TTU (although I will be for the aggies when playing those goatherders); KSu is weak should be a win; IA st is weak too- they should beat them easily (all that corn and no football --sad indeed;
Colorado is weak and should be a win there; OU will slaughter A&M; Baylor is a cupcake--as usual, and then finally UT will slaughter A&M to end the aggies season with a sad note but hopefully with at least 7 wins this year the aggies can go to a Bowl game.
That pretty much sums it up
Ed

TexasBred":16lgqsxs said:
edrsimms":16lgqsxs said:
TexasBred --I am just giving you a hard time about being an Aggie-- surely you have heard it all before and don't take it sooo personal -- it is not like you Aggies to be so emotional.
Ed

Did I show any emotion? Not of the negative sort anyway. First thing you're taught as an Aggie is to laugh at yourself. Lord knows we have more than enough opportunities. :lol2:
 

TexasBred

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ed you're much too generous...I only figure the Ag's will win 5 games at best. Texas will be in the national championship game and Tech will win 8....
 

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