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Abstract

Producing high quality forage and maintaining productive pastures is a major challenge that beef producers encounter, as rejuvenation is a complex and costly challenge. This is part of a series of papers looking at potential options and methods of rejuvenation to improve the productivity of older forage stands in northern Alberta. The methods of rejuvenation investigated were sub-soiling, break & re-seeding, a combination of manure application plus subsoiling, high stock density grazing, bale grazing, pasture rest, as well as direct seeding in spring and fall. In this series, forage dry matter (DM) yield, forage nutritive value and economic performance are presented and discussed. The top 5 forage DM yielders were bale grazing, manure + subsoil in fall, break & re-seeding, high stock density grazing and fertilizer application in that order. In both years, bale grazing consistently produced higher forage DM yield than other methods including control, with bale grazing giving up to 100% higher yield at site-1 and 219% at site- 2 for the 2-year total forage DM. Most forage nutritive value parameters measured were similar for the rejuvenation methods investigated. A simplified economic analysis done in this study showed that the direct input cost of rejuvenation an old forage stand was higher with the break & re-seeding method than other methods. However, for bale grazing, when the cost of hay bales used was factored in, then the cost of bale grazing far exceeded those of other methods including break & re-seeding. The implications of the results obtained in this study in relation to beef cattle production system are highlighted.

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