MISSOURI — Missouri cattle producers utilize a wide array of strategies to keep their herds healthy.

One such practice is rotating cattle through different grazing pastures at set intervals. This helps both the animals and the plants by providing the grasses an opportunity to grow back for the next rotation.

KMZU’s Dan Watson spoke with Zachary Erwin, a Field Specialist in Livestock with the University of Missouri Extension, about the timing of rotation, the potential impact of grazing beef versus dairy cattle and the possible benefits to the herd’s overall health.

Click below to listen to their conversation, which aired Thursday on KMZU.


One of the first things that should be taken into consideration is the type and breed of cattle a producer owns. The type of forage changes depending on if an operation raises beef or dairy cattle.

“The types of forages are going to very much matter,” Erwin said, “because those that are milking those cows see the results twice a day and even sometimes three times a day if they’re very intensely managed.”

According to Erwin, the breed of beef cattle does not have as great an impact on the type of forage that is used. However, the larger breeds such as the Charolais and Limousin will eat more forage on average due to their size.

Erwin also states that when managing a forage rotation system, the herd only needs to remain in a pasture for a short time before moving to the next one.

“When you look at what research says about how often you should move a herd, utilization rates tend to drop fairly rapidly after we get past the day mark on a new pasture, so when you’re setting these up for a rotational grazing system, really our goal is three to five day move.”

By taking the time to plan and execute a grazing strategy, there is greater potential for a healthier and heartier herd.

“When done right, when done properly, the herd should and will have better nutrition,” Erwin said, “and when you do that, your vaccinations will work better, you’ll have more disease resistance.”

To learn more about cattle in Missouri, visit the University of Missouri Extension’s beef or dairy cattle websites.