McNay Farm Field Day Will Focus on Swath Grazing

February 3, 2023, 1:42 pm | Chris Clark, Sherry Hoyer

(Update: Virtual option now available): In response to interest from outside Iowa in the Feb. 21 Swath Grazing Field Day at the ISU McNay Farm, a virtual option has been created to allow remote viewing. The classroom presentation about the project will be available via Zoom. This option does not require preregistration and there is no charge. 

To attend via Zoom, connect directly  or go to and enter meeting ID: 932 8445 0110 and password: 202906.)


CHARITON, Iowa — Cattle producers are invited to attend an educational program and pasture walk on Feb. 21 at the McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm near Chariton.

Chris Clark, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said the event will highlight a recent project demonstrating swath grazing during the winter to reduce labor and feed costs.

Beef cattle grazing.Swath grazing has been in use with the Iowa State campus herd in Ames for four years and is now being expanded to the McNay research herd. This winter grazing strategy, which has been popular in Canada for a number of years, is designed to extend the grazing season through winter and adverse weather events. In Iowa, it both extends the grazing season and almost doubles the forage utilization over intensely grazed stockpiled forages.

The swath grazing system can work well to complement a traditional Iowa grazing and cropping system and fill the winter gap in forage production. At the McNay farm, pearl millet was planted in June and mowed into windrows in late November. Spring calving cows grazed cornstalks until Dec. 7 when they were turned into the swath fields. Swaths were strip grazed utilizing temporary electric fence to control access. Cows are doing well on this forage and will likely graze the swathed millet until late February or early March.

A field day has been planned to demonstrate and explain this winter feeding strategy. Iowa Beef Center associate scientist Garland Dahlke will be the primary speaker and will spend a little time in the classroom explaining the project and its findings so far. Weather permitting, attendees will then have the opportunity to go out into the field and see cows in action as they graze the forage swaths.

Randie Culbertson, the new ISU Extension and Outreach cow-calf specialist, plans to attend and producers will have the opportunity to learn a little bit about what she brings to Iowa State.

The field day program will be held from 1:30- 3:30 p.m. at the McNay Research Farm, 45249 170th Ave., Chariton.

There will not be a meal but light refreshments will be provided. The program is free and open to the public. Preregister by Feb. 17 by contacting the ISU Extension and Outreach Lucas County office at 641-774-2016 or email Chris Clark can be reached at 712-250-0070 or

Shareable photo: Beef cattle grazing in snow-covered pasture.

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