Comparison of Beef Cattle Grazing Management Practices and their Effects on Runoff Water Quality in Louisiana


  • H. A. DeRamus University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • C. Y. Jeong Louisiana State University Ag Center
  • T. J. Clement University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • J. C. Berry University of Louisiana at Lafayette



Best management practices, management intensive grazing, continuous stocking, water quality runoff.


Management-intensive grazing (MIG) allows better use of grazed forage crops with short-duration grazing in small paddocks and with this study; the water quality was compared for two grazing management methods. Year-round grazing with MIG and continuous stocking (CS) were compared. Four 0.81-ha plots for two replications of the grazing systems were established. Twenty 0.04 ha (0.1 ac) paddocks, established with power fencing, allowed daily cattle rotation in MIG system. Continuous grazing and MIG used the same stocking rate on each experimental plot (0.81 ha). Each year, two crossbredbeef (Bos taurus) heifers (390 kg ±12 kg; 12-14 mo at start) were maintained on each plot year-around for 3 yr, with additional yearling heifers added to maintain similarforage availability between stocking methods.Common bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon [L] Pers.) was grazed in summer and annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) was over-seeded into the sod during October for winter and spring grazing. Forage mass was determined monthly and available forage dry matter (DM) was maintained at approximately 1120 kg DM ha-1 Runoff water samples were collected during 42 rainfall events from May 2001 through March 2004. No significant treatment differences (P > 0.10) were found in most of the water quality parameters. Runoff as a percentage of the 3-yr average annual rainfall of 1869 mm was 34% for MIG and 42% CS. The average flow-weightedconcentrations of soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) varied from 5.08 mg P L–1 (ppm) to 8.22 mg P L– 1 (ppm) while the NH+4–N ranged from 1.07 mg N L–1 (ppm) in year one to 10.11 mg N L–1 (ppm) for the second year (P < 0.05) for year effect. Total annual average forage production was greater (P < 0.05) in the MIG compared to CS with19,796 kg ha-1 for MIG vs. 16,964 kg ha-1 for CS. Beef production also increased with the MIG system with an annual total beef gain from MIG at 422 kg ha-1 y-1 vs. CS at 330 kg ha-1 yr-1.

Author Biographies

H. A. DeRamus, University of Louisiana at Lafayette


C. Y. Jeong, Louisiana State University Ag Center

Research Station

T. J. Clement, University of Louisiana at Lafayette


J. C. Berry, University of Louisiana at Lafayette



Murphy BM, Silman J, McCrory L, Flack S, Winsten JR, Hoke D, Schmitt A and Pillsbury B. “Environmental, Economic, and Social Benefits of Feeding Livestock on Well-Managed Pasture.” Environmental Enhancement Through Agriculture. Medford, MA, Tufts University 1996.

Murphy B. Greener Pastures on Your Side of the Fence. 3rd ed. Colchester, Vermont: Arriba Publishing 1994.

White SL, Sheffield RE, Washburn SP, King LD and Green JT. Spatial and Time Distribution of Dairy Cattle Excreta in an Intensive Pasture System. J Environ Qual 2001; 30: 2180- 2187.

Paine L, Undersander DJ and Casler MD. Pasture growth, production, and quality under rotational and continuous grazing management. J Prod Agric 1999; 12: 569-577.

Morrow RE, Schulz-Tate VG, Gerrish JR and Roberts CA. Implications of daily quality changes in rotationally grazed pastures for beef cattle. American Forage and Grassland Proceedings, Columbia, MO 1991; 145-149.

Allen VG, Batello C, Berretta EJ, Hodgson J, Kothmann M, Li X, McIvor J, Milne J, Morris C, Peeters A and Sanderson M. An international terminology for grazing lands and grazing animals. Grass Forage Sci 2011; 66: 2-28.

Chestnut AB, Fribourg HA, Oaks DO, McClaren JB, Gwinn KD and Mueller MA. Performance of cows and calves with continuous or rotational stocking of endophyte-infested tall fescue-clover pastures. J Prod Agric 1992; 5: 405-408.

Vallentine JF. Grazing Management. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. 1990.

Sovell LA and Vondracek B. Impacts of Rotational Grazing and Riparian Buffers on Physicochemical and Biological Characteristics of Southeastern Minnesota Streams, USA, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Environmental Management 2000; 26(6): 629-641. (cited 6 June 2014).

NRCS LA. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Conservation Practice Standard, Prescribed Grazing, (Ac.) CODE 528. October 2008.

Florida Cattlemen’s Association. Water quality best management practices for cow/calf operations in Florida. Kissimmee FL; Florida Cattlemen’s Assn 1999.

Peterson PR, Gerrish JR. Grazing systems and spatial distribution of nutrients in pastures: Livestock management considerations. Columbia, MO. 7–9 Mar 1996. In R.E. Joost and C.A. Roberts (ed.) Nutrient cycling in forage systems. Potash and Phosphate Institute and the Foundation for Agronomy Research, PPI, Norcross, GA 1996. P 213-219.

Haynes RJ and Williams PH. Nutrient cycling and soil fertility in grazed pasture ecosystem. Adv in Agron 1993; 49: 119- 199.

Mathews BW, Sollenberger LE, Nair VD and Staples CR. Impact of grazing management on soil nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur distribution. J Environ Qual 1994; 23: 1006-1013.

During C and Weeda WC. Some effects of cattle dung on soil properties, pasture production, and nutrient uptake: I. Dung as a source of phosphorus. N Z J Agric Res 1973; 16: 423- 430.

Dougherty WJ, Fleming NK, Cox JW and Chittleborough DJ. Phosphorus transfer in surface runoff from intensive pasture systems at various scales: A review. J Environ Qual 2004; 33: 1973-1988.

Chaplot VAM and Bissonnais YL. Runoff features for interrill erosion at different rainfall intensities, slope lengths, and gradients in an agricultural loessial hillslope. Soil Sci Soc Am J 2003; 67: 844-851.

Srinivasan MS, Kleinman PJA and Gburek WJ. Hydrological evaluation of National P Project runoff plots. In Annual meeting abstracts (CD-ROM). ASA, CSSA, SSSA, Madison, WI 2001.

Edwards DR and Daniel TC. Effects of poultry litter application rate and rainfall intensity on quality of runoff from fescuegrass plots. J Environ Qual 1993; 22: 361-365.

Pluhar JJ, Knight RW and Heitschmidt RK. Infiltration rates and sediment production as influenced by grazing systems in the Texas Rolling Plains. J Range Mgt 1987; 40: 240-243.

Briske DD, Derner JD, Brown JR, Fuhlendorf SD, Teague WR, Havstad KM, Gillen RL, Ash AJ and Willms WD. Rotational Grazing on Rangelands: Reconciliation of Perception and Experimental Evidence. Rangel Ecol Mgt 2008; 61: 3-17.

Hubbard RK, Newton GL, Hill GM. Water quality and the grazing animal. J Anim Sci 2004; 82(E. Suppl.): E255-E263.

Drewry JJ and Paton RJ. Effects of cattle treading and natural amelioration on soil physical properties and pasture under dairy farming in Southland, New Zealand. N Z J Agric Res 2000; 43: 377-386.

Owens LB, Edwards WM and Van Keuren RW. Runoff and sediment losses resulting from winter feeding on pastures. J Soil Water Cons 1997; 52(3): 194-197.

Owens LB, Edwards WM and Van Keuren RW. Sediment and nutrient losses from an unimproved, all-year grazed watershed. J Environ Qual 1989; 18: 232-238.

Garwood EA and Ryden JC. Nitrate loss through leaching and surface runoff from grassland: Effects of water supply, soil type and management. G.G. Vander meer et al. (ed). In Nitrogen fluxes in intensive grassland systems. Nihoff Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. 1986; 99-113.

Stout WL, Fales SL, Muller DL, Schnabel RR, Elwinger GF and Weaver SR. Assessing the effect of management intensive grazing on water quality in the northeast U.S.J Soil and Water Cons 2000; 55: 238-243.

Russelle MP. Nitrogen cycling in pasture and range. J Prod Agric 1992; 5: 13-23.

Pennington JH, Steele MA, Teague KA, Kurz B, Gbur E, Popp J, Rodriques G, Chaubey I, Gitau M and Nelson MA. Breaking ground, A cooperative approach to collection information on conservation practices from an initially uncooperative population. J Soil Water Conserv 2008; 63: 208A-211A.

Brooks KN, Ffolliott PF, Gregersen HM and Debano LF. Hydrology and the Management of Watersheds. 2nd ed. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press 1997.

Thurow TL. Hydrology and erosion. In Grazing Management: An Ecological Perspective, ed. R.K. Heitschmidt and J.W. Stuth, Portland, OR: Timber Press 1991; 141-159.

Mapfumo E, Baron VS, Naeth MA and Chanasyk DA. Grazing impacts on selected soil parameters under short term forage sequences. J Range Mgt 2000; 53: 466-470.

Sollenberger LE and Cherney DJR. Evaluating forage production and quality. In R.F Barnes et al. (ed.) Forages: The science of grassland agriculture. Iowa State Univ. Press, Ames, IA 1995; 97-110.

Murphy J and Riley JP. A modified single solution method for the determination of phosphate in natural waters. Anal Chim Acta 1962; 27: 31-36.

Crook WM and Simpson WE. Determination of ammonium on Kjeldahl digests of crops by an automated procedure. J Sci Food Agric 1997; 22: 9-10.

Kuykendall HA, Cabrera ML, Hoveland CS, McCann MA and West LT. Stocking method effects on nutrient runoff from pastures fertilized with broiler litter. J Environ Qual 1999; 28: 1886-1890.

Haan MM, Russell JR, Powers WJ, Kovar JL and Benning JL. Grazing management effects on sediment and phosphorus in surface runoff. Range Ecol Mgt 2006; 59: 607- 615.

Udawatta RP, Motavalli PP, Garrett HE and Krstansky JJ. Nitrogen losses in runoff from three adjacent agricultural watersheds with claypan soils. Agric Ecosys Environ 2006; 117: 39-48.

Jarvis SC, Hatch DJ and Roberts DH. The effects of grassland management on nitrogen losses from grazed swards through ammonia volatilization; the relationship to excretal N returns from cattle. J Agric Sci, Camb 1989; 112: 205-216.

Chichester FW, Van Keuren RW and McGuinness JL. Hydrology and chemical quality of flow from small pastured watersheds: II. Chemical quality. J Environ Qual 1979; 8: 167-171.

Owens LB, Van Keuren RW and Edwards WM. Nitrogen loss from a high-fertility, rotational pasture program. J Environ Qual 1983; 12: 346-350.

Edwards DR, Larson BT and Lim TT. Runoff nutrient and fecal coliform content from cattle manure application to Fescue plots. J Amer Water Res Assoc 2000; 36: 711-721.

Owens LB and Shipitalo MJ. Surface and subsurface phosphorus losses from fertilized pasture systems in Ohio. J Environ Qual 2006; 35: 1101-1109.

Haygarth PM and Jarvis SC. Soil derived phosphorus in surface runoff from grazed grassland lysimeters. Water Res 1997; 31: 140-148.

Edwards WM, Owens LB. Large storm effects on total soil erosion. J Soil Water Conserv 1991; 46(1): 75-78.

Sanjari G, Yu B, Ghadiri H, Ciesiolka C and Rose CW. Effects of Time-Controlled Grazing on Runoff and Sediment Loss. Aust J Soil Res 2009; 47(8): 769-808.

Kleinman PJA, Srinivasan MS, Dell CJ, Schmidt JP, Sharpley AN and Bryant RB. Role of rainfall intensity and hydrology in nutrient transport via surface runoff. J Environ Qual 2006; 35: 1248-1259.

Nash D and Murdoch C. Phosphorus in runoff from a fertile dairy pasture. Aust J Soil Res 1997; 35: 419-429.

Kurz I, Coxon C, Tunney H and Ryan D. Effects of grassland management practices and environmental conditions on nutrient concentrations in overland flow. J Hydrol 2005; 304: 35-50.

Sharpley AN. Dependence of Runoff Phosphorus on Extractable Soil Phosphorus. J Environ Qual 1995; 24: 920- 926.

Arheimer B and Liden R. Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations from agricultural catchments--influence of spatial and temporal variables. J Hydrol 2000; 227: 140-159.

McDowell RW, Muirhead RW and Monaghan RM. Nutrient, Sediment, and Bacterial Losses in Overland Flow from Pasture and Cropping Soils Following Cattle Dung Deposition. Commun in Soil Sci Plt Anal 2006; 37(1): 93-108.

Sharpley AN, Ahuja LR, Yamamoto M and Menzel RG. The kinetics of phosphorus desorption from soil. Soil Sci Soc J 1981; 45: 493-496.

Haygarth PM and Jarvis SC. Transfer of phosphorus from agricultural soils. Adv Agron 1999; 66: 195-245.

Sauer TJ, Daniel TC, Nichols DJ, West CP, Moore PA and Wheeler GL. Runoff water quality from poultry litter treated pasture and forest sites. J Environ Qual 2000; 29: 515-521.

Swain H M, Bohlen PJ, Campbell KL, Lollis LO and Steinman AD. Integrated ecological and economic analysis of ranch management systems: an example from South Central Florida. Range Ecol Mgt 2007; 60: 1-11.

US EPA. Quality criteria for water. Office of water regulation and standards. EPA-440/5-86-001. May 1986. USEPA, Washington, DC 1986.

Pote DH, Daniel TC, Nichols DJ, Sharpley AN, Moore PA, Miller DM and Edwards DR. Relationship between phosphorus levels in three Ultisols and phosphorus concentrations in runoff. J Environ Qual 1999; 28: 170-175.

Ebeling AM, Bundy LG, Powell JM and Andraski TW. Dairy diet phosphorus effects on phosphorus losses in runoff from land-applied manure. Soil Sci Soc Amer J 2002; 66: 284-291.

Mundy GN, Nexhip KJ, Austin NR and Collins MD. The influence of cutting and grazing on phosphorus and nitrogen in irrigation runoff from perennial pasture. Aust J Soil Res 2003; 41: 675-685.

Nash D, Hannah M, Halliwell D and Murdoch C. Factors affecting phosphorus export from a pasture based grazing system. J Environ Qual 2000; 29: 1160-1166.

Nash DM and Halliwell DJ. Fertilizers and phosphorus loss from productive grazing systems. Aust J Soil Res 1999; 37: 403-429.

Monaghan RM, Horne D, Hedley M and Nguyen L. Subsurface drainage review: Water and contaminant loads from artificial subsurface drainage systems in New Zealand; AgResearch client report for Fonterra Research Centre, AgResearch, Invermay Agricultural Centre: Mosgiel, New Zealand 73, 2002.

Sollenberger LE, Agouridis CT, Vanzant ES, Franzluebbers AJ and Owens LB. CHAPTER 3: Prescribed Grazing on Pasturelands. In Nelson, C.J. (ed.) Conservation Outcomes from Pastureland and Hayland Practices: Assessment, Recommendations, and Knowledge Gaps. Allen Press, Lawrence, KS 2012; 111-204.

Earl JM and Jones CE. The need for a new approach to grazing management: Is cell grazing the answer? Rangel J 1996; 18: 327-350.

Pavlů V, Hejcman M, Pavlů L, Gaisler J and Nežerková P. Effect of continuous grazing on forage quality, quantity and animal performance. Agric, Ecosys Environ 2006; 113: 349- 355.

Oates L, Undersander DJ, Gratton C, Bell MM and Jackson RD. Management-Intensive Rotational Grazing Enhances Forage Production and Quality of Subhumid Cool-Season Pastures. Crop Sci 2011; 51: 892-901.

Gilker RE. Water quality in management intensive grazing and confined feeding dairy farm watersheds 2005. (cited 25 April 2013) available at:

Dubeux JCB, Stewart RL, Sollenberger LE, Vendramini JMB and Interrante SM. Spatial heterogeneity of herbage response to management intensity in continuously stocked Pensacola bahiagrass pastures. Agron J 2006; 98: 1453- 1459.




How to Cite

DeRamus HA, Jeong CY, Clement TJ, Berry JC. Comparison of Beef Cattle Grazing Management Practices and their Effects on Runoff Water Quality in Louisiana. Glob. J. Agric. Innov. Res. Dev [Internet]. 2015Jul.28 [cited 2021Jun.17];2(1):1-15. Available from: