cattle feeding

Forages for Beef Cattle

The livestock industry is one of the most important agricultural activities in South Carolina. There are approximately 8,000 beef production operations and over 340,000 head of cattle statewide. Due to increased concern about sustainability in the beef industry, there has been increased interest in improving management practices to enhance production while using resources more efficiently. Climate-Smart Grown in SC beef farmers are implementing practices that will sustain and grow their herds while enhancing environmental sustainability.

cattle in field

Why Forages for Beef Cattle?

Most livestock systems are cow-calf operations that are based on perennial grasses. Climate-Smart Grown in SC provides improved management strategies through incorporation of legumes, use of poultry litter, and rotational grazing management. These practices help improve forage production, quality, and animal performance while optimizing soil fertility and health. Climate-smart practices for beef cattle systems also help improve forage stand longevity, efficiency of nutrient use and forage harvested, and enhance sustainability of livestock-forage systems.

cattle in grass

Climate-Smart Practices

  • Legumes capture atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into compounds that plants can use. Using forage legumes contributes to enhanced forage production, animal performance, nutrient cycling, and sustainability of forage-livestock systems. When incorporated into forage systems, they can also reduce the need for inorganic N fertilizer input.
  • Prescribed grazing divides pastures into smaller paddocks that are used to rotate animals under a recommended frequency specific to the forage species used. This practice helps to improve water quality and livestock health while reducing soil erosion.
  • Poultry litter is a by-product of poultry production containing feces, wasted feed, water, feathers, and bedding material. It is an excellent, low-cost fertilizer that can provide nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and micronutrients for forage systems. Poultry litter improves soil fertility and health by adding organic matter and enhancing water infiltration and soil fertility over time.

Forages for Beef Cattle Resources

Forages for Beef Cattle Resources