The predominant factor in winter grazing is ensuring adequate forage availability while considering overall long-term range health and maintenance. When managed correctly, grazing winter range can be a viable option for controlling feed costs and ensuring herd health without negatively impacting rangelands.
For those who own grasslands not typically grazed or for those looking for a better contract basis, there are several grazing contract options that can be explored. Typically, grazing contracts are based on an annual cash per-acre rental system, where the livestock lessee pays the landowner a pre-determined per-acre price for access to the pasture for the grazing season.
What makes grassfed beef different from conventionally raised beef? This is perhaps the most common, and sometimes most complex question that arises amongst those hoping to understand the similarities and differences between conventional and grass fed beef.
Grassland fertilization, like many other grassland management topics, is highly dependent on certain parameters such as soil type, vegetation type, and harvest methods. Native plant communities that are appropriately grazed will not benefit from the addition of commercial fertilizers.
Generally speaking, grass fed beef producers are challenged with production expenses that are greater than those of conventionally raised beef. However, profit margins can be greater than those of conventionally raised beef if marketed wisely and creatively.
About 4% of US beef retail and food service sales is comprised by grass fed beef with a value of roughly $4 billion. About $3 billion of that is unlabeled grass fed beef that is sold as conventional beef, making data gathering on these products difficult to obtain.
For those landowners who typically lease or harvest grasslands for hay, contracting for services is a learned business that can have local variations in how the grass and associated services are valued.
Grazing and mowing are both proven techniques for harvesting grassland biomass, and both have advantages and disadvantages in relation to timing, efficiency, and input expenses. Swath grazing and bale grazing are harvest systems that mesh haying and grazing techniques.
While grazing is the primary means of harvesting the majority of South Dakota's native grasslands, haying also plays an important role in native and tame grassland management. Haying impacts individual grassland species and grassland communities in ways that are both similar and different from grazing or fire.
While every grazing management system is unique, there are a few similarities between systems when determining when to graze. Determining grazing tolerance for your program is site-specific.