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Range & Pasture

Find out how to improve livestock production while maintaining the value of the soil and land.

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In the Nebraska Sandhills, Dave and Loretta Hamilton run cattle on 18,000 acres, which is covered in sand bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, prairie sand reed, sand lovegrass and little bluestem – all native grasses.

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As the U.S. farm economy slows, much attention has focused on farmland values. The questions of “if” and “how much” farmland values might soften are on everyone’s mind. Earlier this year, the USDA released its annual report on farmland values.

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The focus for graziers has always been on forage quality in meeting the nutrient requirements of pastured cattle.

The content of crude protein, neutral- and acid-detergent fiber (structural carbohydrates), water-soluble carbohydrates, crude fiber and minerals in a specific forage has been used for estimating forage quality and for formulating supplemental concentrate rations.

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Cattle prices are down from the last couple of years, and that will intensify the urge to save money. The cost of hay and feed for winter supplementation is the largest expense cattle producers incur.

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Fall and early winter forage can be limited in some parts of the U.S. In addition, backgrounding of calves on pasture can be an integral part of a feeder calf development and marketing program.

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This article is the second in a two-part series. Click here to read part-one in the series.

In the last issue of Progressive Cattlemen, several issues regarding the use of native warm-season grasses as a forage tool were considered – adaptability, establishment, longevity, drought tolerance and yield.

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