The beef we sell in the fall are called “stockers” and are year old calves in the spring, weighing about 600 lb, that we are feeding to get to 1400 lb finished weight. Conventionally, they would be in a feedlot somewhere eating a grain ration. Nothing wrong with that, but we are trying something different.

12 species seeds in the planter

In March, I planted a field with 12 species of oat, barley, wheat, Austrian field pea, yellow sweet clover, balansa clover, berseem clover, crimson clover, turnip, kale, collard, and dikon radish–many dyed different colors as show above.

In June, I turned the 25 stockers (both Angus and Wagyu/Angus cross) and 3 cows into the pasture with an electric fence, as shown below. A strip was mowed to allow for the fence.

Within a few weeks, some volunteer sweet clover bloomed and it looked like this:

12-species pasture with yellow sweet clover in bloom

In July, the grains headed out and the stockers selectively ate the heads of the oats, barley, wheat while they were in early milk and soft dough stages. They nibbled the yellow flowers of the clover. They put there heads lower to find the other clovers, show below.

Inside the canopy

They loved the “salad bar” of various grasses (grains), clover, and veggies. Sadly, we didn’t have the time to measure weigh gain, but they seem to be ahead of last year’s stockers, who were ready in late September through December.

The seed cost was about $50 per acre, but we saved money not buying grain. We spent time moving the fence, but we didn’t spend time feeding. We are looking forward to raising stockers in salad bar pastures in the years to come.

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