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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Animal Science

First Advisor

Alexander Smart


Cow-calf producers in eastern South Dakota often over-winter calves to take advantage of the low cost gain associated with lightweight cattle on grass to improve profit margins. Producers will typically use a season-long stocking (SL) grazing system to manage these cattle on grass the following year. Season-long stocking, however, has iv converted the majority of native grassland to a mix of introduced cool-season species which has reduced production efficiency and biodiversity. The use of Intensive Early Stocking (IES) may address both of these issues by improving production and economic efficiency through improved gain per acre and reducing biological resource competition for native warm-season species. The objective of this study is to determine the effect of IES on livestock production, biomass disappearance, and plant species composition of cool-season dominated pastures. Study sites were established in Miller, SD, and Volga, SD, and data was collected from Miller in 2010 and Volga in 2010 and 2011. Study sites were predominately introduced cool-season grass pastures. At each study site, two side by- side paddocks were established and stocked for SL stocking and IES (2 x normal stocking r ate) with yearling cattle. The SL trial lasted 120 days while the IES trial lasted 60 days. All cattle were weighed prior to grazing, at 60 days (end of IES), and at 120 days (end of SL). Forage yield was measured weekly throughout the grazing season. Samples collected for forage yield were analyzed for forage quality using Near-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS). Gain per hectare (ha) was calculated following the end of the trial. Species composition was sampled in May and September. Gain per ha was similar between the IES and SL treatments. Available forage in the IES trial was 23% less than SL at midsummer; however, at the end of the growing season available forage on IES was 1.4 times that of SL. There was also a significant increase in native warm-season grass composition on the IES trial.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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