ISU McNay Farm field day will focus on swath grazing project


Grazing Cattle In Snow.

Grazing cattle in snow.


CHARITON, Iowa — Cattle producers are invited to attend an educational program and pasture walk on Feb. 21 at the McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm near Chariton. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Chris Clark said the event will highlight a recent project demonstrating swath grazing during the winter to reduce labor and feed costs.

Swath grazing has been in use with the ISU campus herd in Ames for four years and is now being expanded to the McNay research herd. This winter grazing strategy, which has been popular in Canada for a number of years, is designed to extend the grazing season through winter and adverse weather events. In Iowa it both extends the grazing season and almost doubles the forage utilization over intensely grazed stockpiled forages.

The swath grazing system can work well to complement a traditional Iowa grazing and cropping system and fill the winter gap in forage production. At the McNay farm, pearl millet was planted in June and mowed into windrows in late November. Spring calving cows grazed cornstalks until Dec. 7 when they were turned into the swath fields. Swaths were strip grazed utilizing temporary electric fence to control access. Cows are doing well on this forage and will likely graze the swathed millet until late February or early March.

A field day has been planned at the McNay Research Farm to demonstrate and explain this winter feeding strategy. Iowa Beef Center associate scientist Garland Dahlke will be the primary speaker and will spend a little time in the classroom explaining the project and its findings thus far. Weather permitting, attendees will then have the opportunity to go out into the field and see the cows in action as they graze the forage swaths.

Also, the new Iowa State University Extension cow-calf specialist Randie Culbertson plans to attend. Producers will have the opportunity to meet Randie and learn a little bit about what she brings to Iowa State University.

The field day program will be held Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 1:30 p.m. to approximately 3:30 p.m. at the McNay Research Farm, 45249 170th Avenue, Chariton. There will not be a meal but light refreshments will be provided. The program is free and open to the public. Please preregister by Feb. 20 by calling the Lucas County Extension Office at 641-774-2016 or by email at For more information, contact Clark at 712-250-0070.



The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University was established in 1996 with the goal of supporting the growth and vitality of the state’s beef cattle industry. It comprises faculty and staff from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, and works to develop and deliver the latest research-based information regarding the beef cattle industry. For more information about IBC, visit

Chris Clark, Iowa State University Extension beef specialist, 712-250-0070,

Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Beef Center, 515-294-4496,


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