Needs of producers using integrated cropping and cattle systems

Five focus groups with 43 innovative producers were held in Lincoln, Norfolk, Holdrege, Broken Bow, and Scottsbluff. These producers were asked to discuss barriers, and research needs regarding integrated cow/calf and cropping systems.

Five common items were identified as either an education or research gap by each focus group:

  1. Evaluate each integrated system as a whole system in terms of economics, risk, and adaptability to markets and weather.  
  2. Explore options to extend the grazing season for early spring and late fall forage deficiencies. 
  3. Develop management practices that reduce disease incidences in young calves.
  4. Refine the energy requirements of drylot cows.
  5. Investigate variability of cattle response when grazing corn residue.

Top priorities identified by each group.


  • How to extend the grazing season – early spring and fall
  • Best grazing management practices for efficient use of annual forage resources
  • Grazing of corn residue: requirements of fall cows and dealing with downed corn
  • Calf health issues-summer pneumonia
  • Perennial forage seeding options


  • Early spring grazing options
  • Fall grazing weaned calves onto fresh forage
  • Drylot cows- health issues with calves
  • Cropland rental agreements with cover crops for forage use and corn stalk grazing


  • Whole system financial analysis (with understanding of enterprise cost/returns)
  • Standardized templates for decision making
  • Nutrient requirements of cow- energy for drylot cows and supplement needs for fall cows on corn residue
  • Conception rates on cover crops
  • Effects of cover crop on primary crop

Broken Bow

  • Costs and risk associated with alternative systems – return on investment
  • Reproductive efficiency -washy forage, fall cows, bull productivity
  • Nutrient requirements of drylot cows
  • Calf health issues-summer pneumonia
  • Rental agreements for grazing corn residue


  • Economic and environmental benefits of grazing cropland
  • Systems income with least risk
  • Long term impacts for grazing management and deferred grazing on perennial forage
  • Stocking rates on corn residue and deal with variable quality of residue
  • Early spring forage needs

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