OLD_SERA41: Beef Cattle Production Utilizing Forages in the Southeast to Integrate Research and Extension Programs across State Boundaries: Development

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

OLD_SERA41: Beef Cattle Production Utilizing Forages in the Southeast to Integrate Research and Extension Programs across State Boundaries: Development

Duration: 10/01/2015 to 09/30/2019

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Use of pasture and forage is the world’s most common beef production system. Successful livestock production depends on forage programs which supply large quantities of adequate quality, homegrown feed. Major percentages of the feed units for beef (83%) and dairy (61%) cattle come from forages. In addition, forages supply an estimated 91%, 72%, 15% and 99% of the nutrients consumed by sheep and goats, horses, swine and ruminant wildlife, respectively. Development of a forage?based system necessitates research to evaluate its potential for weaning and continuation in forage?based growing steers, replacement heifer and/or harvest (market) for forage-finished beef systems. The environment in this region of the country is especially conducive to growing a variety of both cool- and warm-season forages in support of cow/calf, and post-weaning development of cattle, making this region ideal for grazing livestock.

Individual cow longevity, prolificacy and lifetime profitability is greatly impacted during the developmental period (from weaning to second confirmed pregnancy at two years of age) in beef and dairy cattle production. This period represents a tremendous economic investment, most of which is not recouped unless the female produces a live calf the following four to five years. Replacement heifer development in the SE region is predominantly accomplished through forage-based nutrition systems. National and SE beef cow inventory steadily decreased from 2007 to 2014 due to drought, low cattle prices, and increasing input prices. However, due to record high cattle prices, national and SE beef cow inventory is beginning to rebound (up 1%, January 1, 2015). However, due to long generation intervals compared to other livestock, this will be a slow process. Therefore, most economists conservatively forecast a sustained period of rebuilding. This rebuilding will bring a greater demand for high quality replacement heifers to the already established trend. This lends an excellent opportunity to beef cattle producers in the SE due to the potential to develop heifers predominantly on forage; an economical feed source producible throughout most of the year in the SE. Concurrently, research from the Midwest and Great Plains is suggesting a paradigm shift in the management and nutritional approach to developing heifers, however little data exists supporting these approaches in the SE.

The previous SERA41 group conducted several online workshops to deliver timely information to professionals and producers in all our states. Also, the group hosted the Kunkle Interdisciplinary Symposium every year during the Southern Section Annual ASAS meetings. In 2015, SERA41 hosted a symposium dealing with fescue toxicosis, following a weekend long meeting where industry, stakeholders, specialists and researchers participated.


  1. Evaluate methods to develop replacements heifers in the SE based on pasture-based and conserved-forage nutritional programs.
  2. Continue hosting the Kunkle Symposium and host a multi-state symposium dealing with “Systems to develop replacement heifers” in 2018 (similar to that conducted for “Fescue toxicity” this year). Annual webinars will be hosted where progress reports and timely discussion of topics will be promoted.

Procedures and Activities

Evaluate the performance and profitability of developing beef heifers:

a. Forage-Animal interface research with both basic and translational research into grazing research including stocking methods, energy and protein supplementation including harvested forages and co-products of grain milling;

b. Management effects on animal performance, reproduction, and health; and

c. Evaluate the influence on cow longevity and lifetime economic return.

Continue the practice of multi-state and multi-disciplinary educational programs (on site and online) that address southeast specific issues of developing replacement heifers.

a. Work across state lines to organize and deliver educational programming.

o Examples include: Mid-South Stocker Conference (KY, TN), Deep South Stocker Conference (AL, GA, MS), Tri-State Beef Conference (NC, TN, VA)

b. Specialists cross state lines to deliver educational programs and review Extension publications pertaining to their specialty when requested.

c. Another excellent example of this type of work is the SERA41 that will continue to be held on the day before the beginning of the southern section ASAS meetings.

d. The “Bill E. Kunkle Interdisciplinary Beef Symposium” is always held on Monday morning of ASAS Southern Section meetings.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Objective 1: Research and extension faculty will coordinate via conference calls, teleconferences, and at regional or national meeting(s) to share the information and/or programs they are working on relative to herd expansion and heifer development. This will allow for the identification of information gaps and the development of complementary research and Extension programming across state boundaries.
  • In the last few years, research efforts derived in the development of cooperative work (reducing hay feeding in cow-calf systems is an example; AR, LA, and GA are participating in this effort), proposals submitted to AFRI (a multi-state, multi-disciplinary integrated project was submitted to AFRI), and sharing of information on topics of common interest. In all cases, these efforts will continue with specific emphasis on heifer development.
  • Recommendations on forage utilization (stocking rates, grazing management, management strategies, etc.), supplement(s) needs, efficiency of use of harvested forages, and the evaluation of by-products from the grain industry will be available for the region.
  • Objective 2: The “Bill E. Kunkle Interdisciplinary Beef Symposium” will be held at the annual meeting of the Southern Section ASAS. This symposium has been conducted for the last 7 years. Integration of Extension and Research faculty will be promoted from within each state (by its representative) and venues favoring interaction among faculty from different states will be facilitated.
  • Following the success of the “Fescue toxicity” summit in 2015, a new meeting will be organized in 2018 to address the issue of developing replacement beef heifers.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

Information exchanged by members of this project will be of critical value to the beef cattle industry, and to research scientists and Extension specialists working in the area of beef/forage production systems in the Southeast region. The participants of the SERA 041 will combine forces with the existing beef cattle commodity groups including NCBA and state beef committees to form a linkage between the Land Grant Universities and our commodity groups. This linkage will be valuable as we exchange information to support and enhance beef production in the Southeast.


The recommended Standard Governance for this multistate activity will be to elect of a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. All officers will serve a one-year term with progression of leadership from Secretary to Chair-elect to Chair to provide continuity. Guidelines for officer election will be a rotational basis between Experiment Station and Extension. Administrative guidance will be provided by assigned Administrative Advisors (Extension and Research) and a USDA/NIFA Representative. The Chair will be responsible for organizing the next annual meeting and for coordinating meeting arrangements with the host location. The Secretary will be responsible for writing and submitting minutes of the meeting to the Administrative Advisors and to the website coordinator. Current officers are Dr. Lawton Stewart, Chair (UGA), Dr. Paul Beck, Chair-Elect (UA) and Dr. Jason Banta, Secretary (TAMU). Our meetings are held annually in the first week of February, during the Southern Section meetings of the ASAS.

Literature Cited


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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