Is there a way to produce pasture-based beef more sustainably?
That is the focus for a research team led by Dr. Sarah Lancaster, assistant professor of agriculture at Missouri State University.
About the research
The three-year project at MSU’s Shealy Farm involves increasing nutrients for cattle through supplemental feed and evaluating how the feed provides the fertilizer needed for beef and forage production.
The feed consists of grain processing by-products such as soybean hulls, vitamins and minerals. It will be made especially for growing steers grazing in pastures with tall fescue grass during spring.
“We want to know how effective cattle are at converting the supplemental feed into fertilizer,” said Lancaster. “We’ll evaluate the economic impacts of relying on the feed to provide fertilizer and measure forage growth using a relatively new ultrasonic sensor technology.”
She and MSU assistant professor of agriculture Dr. Phillip Lancaster conducted a similar trial in 2010 while they were working at Oklahoma State University. Results showed that pastures that received supplemental feed:
- raised more pounds of beef per acre
- had better nitrogen recovery
- had greater economic returns per acre
“The results of this project have the potential to provide information that can make pasture-based beef production in the Ozarks more economically and environmentally sustainable,” said Lancaster.
Cattle will graze at Shealy Farm from April to June for the next two years. Outreach activities, such as a field day in June for local cattle producers, will highlight the research.
This project is possible thanks to a grant award of $298,669 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The research team includes Dr. Phillip Lancaster, Dr. William McClain and Nichole Busdieker-Jesse, assistant professors of agriculture at MSU.
For more information, contact Sarah Lancaster at 417-836-5087.