Effects of Summer Pastures with and without alfalfa on cow-calf productivity

Sustainability of the beef sector is dependent on being profitable while meeting public demand for environmental stewardship. Cow-calf producers continually assess their management systems to ensure efficient use of available feed and other resources, to promote animal health and performance, and to reduce production costs. Manitoba has an abundance of natural grasslands and marginal land suited to growing forages in support of cow-calf production. Manitoba cattle operations use both native and seeded pastures for grazing, and the proportionate use of native or unimproved pasture (77%) has been higher than seeded pastures for all regions in the province except the Northwest (Small and McCaughey, 1999). Incorporating alfalfa into grass pastures was reported to improve carrying capacity and meet the requirements of lactating beef cows at no additional cost (Kopp et al., 2003). This study evaluated the impact of alfalfa in summer grass pastures on cow body weight, body condition score and weaned calf production.

Researchers: Getahun Legesse1, Julie Small2, Shannon Scott2, Ermias Kebreab1, Gary Crow1, Hushton Block2, Clayton Robins2, Mohammad Khakbazan2 and Paul McCaughey2

Affiliation: 1 University of Manitoba, 2 Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada Brandon Research Centre

This is a series of 3 projects completed May 2012:
Read the Technical Bulletin 1 #2012-01
Technical Bulletin 2
Technical Bulletin 3