Do I Care About Nutrient Cycling?


If you raise cattle, you should. Nutrient cycling is a natural process which enhances the productive efficiency of pastures and the cattle that graze them. Because of nutrient cycling, Dr. Monte Rouquette and his colleagues at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton have been able to produce significant amounts of forage (and cattle weight gain) from pastures that have received no external application of nitrogen fertilizer for the past 25 years. With the high cost of N fertilizer, methods to reduce the need for this input in a forage-cattle production system should be of interest to any livestock producer. Dr. Rouquette and his colleagues used annual clovers and grazing management strategies to accomplish the outcomes of this research. Using Bermuda grass pastures, they compared over-seeded ryegrass fertilized with nitrogen to over-seeded clover with no nitrogen fertilizer. These cool-season pastures as well as the subsequent warm season pastures were grazed with cow-calf pairs to measure production; urine and feces deposited by the cattle in one season supported forage plant growth in the next. More information and management guidance can be found in the report:

Pasture-Beef Cattle Management Options with Increased Costs of Fertilizer, Feed Grains and Fuel: Stocking Strategies and Nutrient Cycling

Why Attend the Pasture and Livestock Management Workshop?

forage presentation

Would you like to know more about pastures and beef cattle? The Pasture and Livestock Management Workshop has been conducted at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton annually since 2001. The 2012 workshop will be on March 27, 28 & 29. Topics covered in the program include soil management, forage production options, pasture management, cattle production options, cow herd nutrition and management, farm or ranch business plan development, and more. Topics are covered in a combination of classroom lectures and field demonstrations. Participants are provided handout materials on relevant subjects and have the opportunity to interact individually with instructors to have their specific questions addressed. More information, including registration details, may be found at these links:

1) East Texas School for novice ranchers accepting students

2) Texas AgriLife at Overton – Grazing School 2012

3) Faculty and Scenes from Past Workshops

Registration is limited to facilitate one-on-one interaction with faculty. Participants may reserve an opening by phone or email by contacting Jennifer Lloyd, 903-834-6191 or

The first lesson begins at 1:00 P M on Tuesday, March 27.

Fine Lime is More for Your Money

fertilizer truck

Research conducted by Dr. Vincent Haby revealed fine limestone (ECCE 100%) increased cost efficiency, forage production efficiency, and duration of soil pH change compared to coarse limestone (ECCE 62%).  One ton of fine limestone increases pH to the same extent as caused by 1.61 tons of coarse limestone.   In many East Texas areas, significant cost savings will be realized from using fine limestone for equivalent effectiveness. More information on fine lime and liming soils may be found in the following research reports:

1) Effective Calcium Carbonate Equivalence (ECCE) of Limestone and Neutralization of Soil Acidity

2) Coastal Bermuda Grass Response to Limestone Rates and Particle Size

3) Coastal Bermuda Grass and Legume Response to Limestone Rate, Limestone Fineness (ECCE) and Boron

4) Effect of Fine Limestone on pH Change in Two Soils

5) Tifton 85 Bermuda Grass Response to Limestone Rate, ECCE and Boron

A comprehensive discussion of management options for liming and fertilizing for forage production is presented in the article,

Lime and Fertilizer Strategies for Forage Production ,

based on Dr. Haby’s  research at the Overton Center.

Fractious Cattle Cost You Time and Money

cattle group

Research conducted by Dr. Ron Randel and his colleagues has shown temperamental cattle are less productive than are well-behaved cattle. Beef cattle temperament (calm vs. wild) affects average daily gain, response to vaccination and carcass quality. Seed stock producers should consider temperament in their culling criteria. Measures of temperament taken earlier in a calf’s life (at or before weaning) are more predictive than those taken later. Commercial beef producers should consider temperament in purchasing herd bulls and replacement females. More details of this research are available in the following linked reports:

1) Calm Cattle Have Better Responses to Weaning Vaccinations

2) Relationships Between Cow and Calf Temperament and Live Animal Body Composition Traits in Beef Calves

3) Relationships Between Temperament and Growth Performance in Beef Cattle

4) Relationships Between Temperament and Live Animal Body Composition Traits in Crossbred Stocker Steers

5) Steer Temperament Influences Stress Responsiveness to Handling Typical in Beef Cattle Management

Producers restocking herds reduced because of drought conditions should consider temperament in the heifers and cows that they are purchasing. The decision will affect future productivity.

Should I raise heavier calves?

cow in pasture

The article ” Cattlemen could make more money with heavyweight calves or stockers ” suggests that a commercial cow herd owner should consider the question and learn the options available. With increasing costs of production inputs including fuel, feedstuffs, fertilizer, etc. a manager must explore alternative production and marketing strategies to realize the maximum return to the operation. The choice of option may, in fact probably will, change some from year to year. Also, each operation will have a different set of options and production goals. Within those constraints, a manager can decide the appropriate course of action.