Switchgrass could be grazed by stocker cattle and then harvested for bioenergy production, say researchers at the Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK.

A 24-acre switchgrass field was divided into 12 paddocks to measure stocker cattle performance and switchgrass utilization under low, medium and high stocking rates. In each case, the grass was grazed until it was less than 4" tall.

The high stocking rate resulted in a higher average daily gain and gain per acre than the medium and low stock densities, but the lowest total grazing days. Stocking rate didn't affect biomass availability at the end of the grazing season, but grazing significantly reduced overall biomass compared to ungrazed control paddocks.

“While grazing reduced biomass availability of switchgrass, the significant animal performance gained could impact producer profitability,” say the researchers.