Making the switch to switchgrass

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There is one plant better known for biofuel production that cattle like too.

Switchgrass is grown for biofuels in many areas, but livestock like the taste of it too. It is higher in nutritional value compared to conventional hay. Switchgrass can produce up to twice as much as other hay, and farmers often see yields of four to five tons per acre.

Brad Black has 150 acres of switchgrass on his Monroe County land. He states that he has not seen any shortcomings with it.

UTIA forage specialist Pat Keyser works with about two dozen cattle and forage producers statewide, growing warm season species like switchgrass. “The switchgrass is a very good forage grass and produces very good gains on these cattle, and it’s reliable in summer,” Keyser notes. “Whether it’s hot, whether it’s dry, whether it’s hot and dry, it keeps producing.”

Today’s cattle farmer cannot just turn animals loose to eat whatever is green and growing. Producing switchgrass is an intentional effort that requires careful management, but experts say that it usually is worth the effort.

Kenny Hamilton is also having success with switchgrass: “We’re getting over two pounds a day gain on it in the heat.”

For farmers, any helpful management technique is welcomed, and switchgrass could be a nutritional tool for cattle production that is right at our feet.