October 27, 2011
HOPE, Ark: Unpublished research in Arkansas by Pablo Gregorini indicates that graziers could get up to an extra 3/4 lb of beef gain a day just by always shifting their paddocks in the afternoon.
Previous research in the USA on continuously grazed dairy cows found a diurnal grazing pattern with a short grazing period beginning at about 6 AM.
However, the majority of grazing occurred from near midday until dark with the longest grazing period of the day occurring at dusk.
There is a reason cows prefer to graze longer in the afternoon.
Gregorini found the afternoon grass is approximately 5% more digestible.
The afternoon grasses showed a decrease of 10.8% in the level of fiber and an increase of 34.9% in non-structural carbohydrates.
This increase in non-structural carbohydrates is of particular significance with animals being fattened for slaughter on pasture or for un-supplemented dairy cows as energy is required for both body fat and milk fat.
During the winter, heifers shifted in the afternoon gained 0.2 pounds and 0.014 points of body condition more than heifers shifted in the morning.
This increased ADG to 1.9 pounds per day from 1.7 pounds.
This increase could be particularly critical with finishing animals as an average daily gain of at least 1.7 pounds per day is necessary for the creation of marbling fat.
The increase in gain was even more dramatic on spring pasture where the increase in average daily gain over a morning paddock shift was 1.2 pounds per day and 0.0145 in body condition.
Over the whole winter/spring winter pasture grazing season, simply shifting the animals in the afternoon increased average daily gain an average of 0.74 pounds.
And, this extra beef cost the grazier absolutely nothing!
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