Livestock and Forages

Cattle eating in frosty pasture

The Beef and Forages Unit of the SWREC is managed by a faculty member in the Department of Animal Science with split appointment in Research and Extension, three Research Associates, and three employees are located at the station in southwest Arkansas, about 300 miles south of the University of Arkansas Campus. The Station was started in 1929 and the Spencer Tract containing the Beef Unit was added in 1961. Research is designed and directed by faculty located at the Fayetteville campus, the Southwest Research and Extension Center at Hope and the Cooperative Extension Service in Little Rock. The SWREC Beef and Forages Unit is split into the Stocker Unit and the Cow-Calf Unit.  The Stocker Unit consists of 115 acres of pasture, divided into 45 pastures for replicated research; a 12 pen feedlot facility with 200 head capacity currently occupies the building formerly used for bull performance testing. The Cow-Calf Unit, which totals 253 acres, is equipped with automatic watering devices so that 20 pasture replications are possible. Pastures are separated with electric fencing that can be easily moved or removed. A new livestock handling facility was constructed adjacent to the pasture area in 2008. Handling facilities include a tub-type chute system, electronic scales, and hydraulic working chute, all under roof inside an 18 x 24 meter metal building. A total of 12 sorting pens are located next to the handling facility. The SWREC Forage and Nutrition Laboratory has facilities for sample preparation including forage drying ovens, frozen storage, and bench space for feed and forage analysis (nitrogen, fiber, and digestibility). Extensive laboratory capability for virtually any forage or feed related analysis exists in the Department of Animal Science on the Fayetteville campus.

Research conducted at the SWREC Beef and Forages Unit includes studies that apply new technology to real world problems facing beef producers in Arkansas and the Southeastern United States:

  • Interseeding clovers and annual ryegrass into warm season grass pastures for growing cattle
  • Interseeding clovers or alfalfa into bermudagrass pastures for growing cattle
  • Use of novel or toxic endophyte fescues with and without clovers for growing cattle
  • Novel endophyte vs. toxic endophyte tall fescue for limit grazing in a complementary grazing program for cows.
  • The impact of tillage on soil characteristics of winter annual pastures
  • Receiving cattle programs for stocker cattle grazing cool-season forages: Effects on receiving and grazing performance and immune function
  • Effect of Age at Slaughter and Pre-Harvest. Management on Beef Quality and Consumer Acceptance.
  • Effect of Cow-Size and Stocking Rate on Summer Grass on Calf Growth, Reproductive Rates, and Cow Herd Efficiency

Over the last 12 years the efforts of the SWREC Beef and Forages Research Unit has yielded 27 peer reviewed journal articles and in excess of $1 million in grants and donations.