The effects of turnout date to pasture on cattle weight gain
The effects of multiple turnout dates on cattle weight gain were assessed in Nova Scotia in 1999 and 2000. Steers and heifers were released into pasture every 1 to 3 d from May 06 to May 28 in 1999 and from Apr. 26 to Jun. 05 in 2000. Cattle turned out to pasture later in the season gained less weight. Turnout date had a similar effect in both years, and 1 d of earlier turnout increased weight by 0.789 kg per animal over the summer. The time for cattle weight to recover after entering the pasture did not vary with turnout date, but it did differ significantly between years, with cattle recovering weight faster in 2000 than in 1999. Rate of weight gain decreased throughout the summer. The results suggest a mechanism for the turnout date effect: that cattle grow fastest on the pasture at the start of the season, and they grow faster on the pasture than in the barn. Thus, the earlier that they are introduced into the pasture, the more time they spend in the pasture during peak weight gain time. Rotational grazing maximizes the effect of turnout date by minimizing potential pasture degradation caused by early turnout.