Adding perennial forage kochia to traditional winter pastures significantly increased their productivity in a Utah State University study.

Forage kochia was established in two pastures and compared with grass-only pastures during two winters. Pregnant crossbred beef cows grazed either forage kochia-crested wheatgrass or crested wheatgrass-cheatgrass for 60 days one winter and 84 days the next.

The pastures with kochia outyielded the unimproved ones and the kochia was higher in quality than the grasses. Digestibility was similar, but the kochia was higher in protein.

Cattle on the improved pastures had greater increases in body condition scores than those grazing grasses only.

“However, the most noteworthy result is the nearly six-fold increase in production (which translates into increased carrying capacity) in the forage kochia pastures,” say the researchers.