Intensive grazing, forage varieties comparison

A great deal of work has already been done on the benefits and methods of intensive grazing (confining a relative large number of livestock on a small area for a short period of time). Our ongoing project is attempting to determine which plant varieties, suited to our climate, will respond most favorably to this practice. Eight small pastures were seeded in the spring of 2005 and allowed to become established. During the growing seasons of 2006 & 2007, these pastures were grazed with a small herd of cattle on a rotational basis with each pasture being grazed for three days and allowed to rest for twenty-one days before being grazed again. Forage and fecal samples were taken from each pasture and analyzed to determine quantity and quality of the forage and potential rates of gain for the cattle. Results from the first two years have been compiled by the local Natural Resource Conservation Service and shared with area producers.

The Goals and Objectives of the project are to:

  • Showcase different species for irrigated pasture
  • Monitor protein and energy through the growing season for different species by using fecal analysis
  • Monitor re-growth potential for different species
  • Monitor production for different species
  • Showcase intensive grazing on irrigated pastures
  • Meet producers cattle production goal of 2.5 lbs/day


Cell # Plant Types Seeding Rate 2007 est. rate of gain 2007 production
Cell 1 Standard pasture mix including: Meadow Brome – Paddock, Orchard Grass – Profile, Tall Fescue – Fawn, Perennial Rye – OreVerdetet, Alfalfa – Spreador 4, Clover – Alsike. 18 lbs/acre 3.5 lbs/day 2880 lbs/acre
Cell 2 Tall Fescue – Fawn 4 lbs/acre 2.9 lbs/day 4080 lbs/acre
Cell 3 Orchard Grass – Latar 10 lbs/acre 3.6 lbs/day 3000 lbs/acre
Cell 4 Meadow Brome – Paddock 10 lbs/acre 3.7 lbs/day 2960 lbs/acre
Cell 5 Russian Wildrye – BoZoisky and Alfalfa – Spreader 3. Wildrye 3 lbs/acre, Alfalfa 9 lbs/acre. 3.8 lbs/day 6200 lbs/acre
Cell 6 Creeping Foxtail – Garrison and Cicer Milk Vetch – Oxley Garrison 11 lbs/acre, Milk Vetch 6 lbs/acre 3.3 lbs/day 3200 lbs/acre
Cell 7 Beardless Wildrye – Shoshone and White Clover – Alice Wildrye 14 lbs/acre, Clover 4 lbs/acre failed stand stand failed
Cell 8 Tall Fescue – Fawn, Orchard Grass – Latar, Meadow Brome – Paddock Fescue 5 lbs/acre, Orchard 4 lbs/acre, Brome 10 lbs/acre 3.1 lbs/day 2520 lbs/acre
Cell 9 Control cell with old hay stand that has gone wild NA 3.2 lbs/day 4480 lbs/acre


  • Actual gain for the steers in 2006 = 2.56 lbs/day
  • Actual gain for the steers in 2007 = 2.97 lbs/day
  • A difference of .41 lbs/day
  • Gained 11,037 lbs on 25.6 acres in 2007
  • At $1.00/lb, gross income was $431/acre