An Economic Analysis of Grazing Cool-Season Annual Forages


  1. Prevatt, UF/IFAS Extension, Range Cattle Research and Education Center, Ona, FL

Situation: Producers throughout Florida feed hay and other stored feedstuffs during the fall, winter, and early spring due to limited forage availability and lower forage quality. Feeding during this time period could last for 90 to 180 days based on management programs and weather conditions. Regardless of why and how long we choose to feed cattle, most cattle producers will agree this is a very costly activity and greatly reduces the profitability of the cowherd. Methods: Cool-season annual forages can be an important part of annual forage production as they allow us to utilized dormant warm-season pastures. These acres that would normally be non-productive during the winter can become productive acres during the winter and early spring months. During the winter of 2015-2016, six cattle producers planting and grazing cool-season annual forages were identified. They were evaluated based on the level of forage production, utilization or consumption of forage, and cost of production per acre. Knowing these three variables allowed us to estimate the cost of forage production on a dollars per ton basis. Enterprise budgets were developed for each individual producer to determine the estimated cost of forage production per acre. Values for estimated level of forage production and utilization of forage were obtained from each producer. Results: The economic results of the study revealed that four out of six producers evaluated planted and grazed cool-season annual forages economically when compared to the cost of feedstuffs consumed with similar nutritional values. Conclusion: The economics of grazing cool-season annual forages depends on a producer’s individual situation. After the first year of study our analysis suggests that grazing cool-season annual forages can be a viable economic option for producers who can control their costs while getting adequate production and utilization.

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