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Dec 4, 2008 by Lee Hart

Lower cost back grounding

Back grounding calves over winter on swath grazing systems,
as opposed to a feed yard can reduce costs by 30 to 50 percent, says a senior
researcher with the Western Beef Development Centre (WBDC).

Bart Lardner, who conducted research at the WBDC’s Termuende
Research Farm, near Lanigan, Sask., told producers attending the Western
Canadian Grazing Conference in Edmonton, that putting calves on barley or
millet swaths held cost of production to 63 to 87 cents per head per day,
respectively. While, a group of calves  back grounded on a more conventional hay and supplement
ration in a feed yard cost $1.17 per head per day to feed.

Performance wise calves on the golden millet swaths gained
1.3 pounds per day, calves on the barley swaths gained 1.9 pounds per day, and
dry lot calves gained 1.6 pounds per day.

On top of the feed and yardage cost savings, Lardner said
nutrients in the manure left by calves over wintering on pasture added about 35
pounds of nitrogen per acre.

Lardner points out his figures are based on a research farm
situation, but says the study does show the potential of swath grazing as an
economical option for back grounding calves.

For more details on Western Beef Development Centre research
visit their website at


Lee Hart

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)

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