Invited Review: Management Strategies for Intensive, Sustainable Cow-Calf Production Systems in the Southeastern United States: Bermudagrass pastures overseeded with cool-season annual grasses and legumes11This review article is based on a presentation by the authors in the symposium Management Strategies for Intensive, Sustainable Cow-Calf Production Systems in the Southeastern United States at the meeting of the American Society of Animal Science Southern Section, February 9, 2016, San Antonio, Texas.
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2017 American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists Sustainability of cow-calf production in the United States has received increased attention during the past few years. The ever-increasing land values and ownership scenarios, redirected agricultural production objectives, and financial requirements for new ownership affects land use, livestock enterprises, and sustainability of the beef industry. Bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] is the most sustainable and persistent warm-season perennial grass used for N-fertilized pastures in the southeastern United States. Management strategies that affect bermudagrass persistence and DM production goals include soil nutrient management, primarily N and K, and stocking rate, intensity, and duration. Overseeding bermudagrass with cool-season annual forages such as small grains, annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum L.), or clovers (Trifolium sp.) extends the active grazing period of pastures and provides the highest nutritive value of any forage class. Stocking strategies that incorporate the most adapted bermudagrass cultivars with soil type, soil nutrient availability, and use of cool-season annual forages provide the best options to achieve intensive forage utilization. Using stocking rates appropriate for forage utilization intensity objectives provides for enhanced gain per animal and gain per unit land area relationships. The economy of scale of operation, management objectives, and acceptable risk allow stakeholders to select their site-specific level of intensive cow-calf production. The most noteworthy aspects of bermudagrass pasture management have shown that the magnitude of forage mass can be immediately altered with implementation of levels of N fertilization and stocking rate to affect beef production per unit land area.