Enhancing the Value of Cover Crops through Utilization by Beef Stocker Cattle: Progress Report (Year 2)
The increase in cover crops across Iowa presents a substantial amount of potential forage available to the beef industry that would otherwise go unutilized. While the benefits of improved soil health and nutrient retention through cover crops are well known, limited data are available on utilization by beef cattle. Thus, a study was designed to measure cattle performance while spring grazing cereal rye and to evaluate the impact grazing had on the soil profile. Preliminary data suggests that with proper supplementation, cattle grazing cereal rye may achieve average daily gains of 1.5 to 3.0 lb/d. Initial analysis of soil bulk density indicates minimal negative changes in compaction due to grazing. Because many variables impact the successful integration of cover crops and livestock into row crops, this is a four-year study summarizing data from year two.