Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Animal Science

First Advisor

Derek Brake


brassica, cattle, digestion, nitrogen retention, performance


Ruminants can use plant fiber to produce food products that provide nourishment to humans. However, a precise understanding of specific plants selected by grazing ruminants remains elusive. Many long- and short-term factors impact cattle grazing behavior. Ultimately, grazing behavior can affect forage available for grazing, nutrient density of forage, dry matter intake, and animal performance. A myriad of grazing management strategies have been developed utilizing animal behavior to allow more efficient use of forage resources. Many management strategies based on manipulation of grazing behavior are simple and cost effective. Optimal performance of individual animals and amount of animal products produced per unit of land are often the primary goal of many management strategies that manipulate grazing behavior in response to changes in grazing pressure. Under- and overgrazing are inefficient and can be detrimental to individual animal performance and efficiency of production from land resources. Integration of cropping systems and cattle production systems by use of crop biomass as a forage resource to cattle can allow greater efficiency of use of land resources. Historically, integrated crop and livestock systems were prevalent in the United States, but recent agricultural economies have incentivized segregation of crop and livestock production systems and have decreased forage resources available for cattle. Similarly, cover crop planting has been a common agronomic practice to improve soil for nearly all of recorded history, but use of cover crops diminished in the United States during the latter half of the twentieth century. Nonetheless, interest in cover crops has renewed in the early twenty-first century. Cover crops can allow agronomic improvements during times tillable lands would be otherwise fallow, and cover crops may provide a good forage resource to cattle. However, greater knowledge of effects of common grazing management strategies on performance of cattle grazing cover crops are needed before large improvement in production of cattle grazing tillable land planted to cover crops can be realized. Increased production of cattle grazing cover crops could allow large improvement in efficiency of agricultural production systems and concomitantly allow greater efficiency in use of land resources.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Cattle -- Feeding and feeds.
Forage plants.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright