Video: Grazing cattle on cover crops in western Kansas

In this video, K-State Research and Extension beef cattle specialist Sandy Johnson says that cover crops can be an option for grazing cattle in western Kansas, despite lower annual rainfall on average.

In studies conducted with cooperating farmers and on research plots, K-State researchers have found a wide range of forage quality and availability.

“But when you can grow forage, (producers) can make good use of that,” Johnson said. “On average, we got about 30 days of grazing in the spring, (while) in the fall, it depends on a lot of things including what you planted and when you want to graze.”

When producers are able to grow forage, the quality is generally high for grazing cattle. A couple challenges when grazing cattle on cover crops include fencing and availability of water, according to Johnson.

“There are challenges, but these are all manageable,” she said. “If you’re interested in incorporating cover crops to get some soil health benefits and improve water infiltration, I think that can still be compatible with livestock use in western Kansas.

“We always have to balance that trade-off between our crop goals and livestock goals, but a lot of people are making it happen and you can, too.”