Updated: Feb 18, 2021
More goes into your steak than what meets the eye. Behind each box of beef our pasture raised, grain finished meat you receive is a lot of decision making, hard work, and planning to ensure that what we are doing not only provides you an excellent product, but is also a good choice for the cattle, for improving our soils and water, and creating a healthier ecosystem.
One of our priorities here at Point Pleasant Meats is to feed our cattle a nutritious blend of grass, hay, and feed. One of the ways we choose to do that is through feeding a native grass called Eastern Gamagrass. Here is a quick rundown on some of the important facts about Gamagrass and why we believe it’s the right forage choice for our livestock.
Gamagrass is a grass native to Kentucky
We are working towards creating pasture diversity reflective of the native species to Kentucky. Although, there aren’t a lot of native stands of gamagrass left in Kentucky due to its susceptibility to overgrazing, gamagrass once flourished all across the eastern united states. By planting species that are native, we are selecting species that we know are going to excel in our soil and environmental conditions and will work synergistically with other plant species, soil series, wildlife and livestock and thrive on our central Kentucky pastures. Plus, gamagrass is often known as the ice cream grass because cattle love it so much!
Warm season grasses fill the summer slump
A common problem for many pasture systems is called “the summer slump.” Many pastures are dominated by cool season grasses whose productivity dramatically decreases during the warmer months. By including a warm season option like eastern gamagrass, we are able to fill that nutritional gap for our livestock. This helps us maintain a steady weight gain for our herd and doesn't compromise pasture productivity or put unnecessary strain on our pastures from hungry cattle overgrazing grasses that just aren't producing enough forage material. In fact, gamagrass even has a wider productivity range than most warm season grasses, which eliminates any decrease in pasture productivity as we transition between cool and warm season plant production.
Gamagrass has an extremely high forage potential
A well-maintained stand of gamagrass can yield 7-8 tons per acre from 3 cuttings. This is much higher than a typical fescue mix pasture system typical to Kentucky. We are excited to have this high producer, both for some summer grazing as well as for hay production to last us into the winter months.
The protein content is unparalleled
Gamagrass can have protein contents around 12-15% and as high as 17%, which is pretty much unmatched for any other grass. For reference, fescue would have somewhere around 10-11%. Alfalfa generally is around that 15% mark as well. The protein content of gamagrass is comparable to that of a legume!
Native grasses are good for our local ecosystem and environment
Gamagrass is an incredible plant, with root systems as deep as 18 feet deep. Even in our shallower top soil, gamagrass is able to improve soil structure, improve water holding capacity, and stabilize hillsides and side slopes.
Those are just a few of the reasons we are utilizing Eastern Gamagrass for our livestock and to help us produce premium quality pasture raised, grain finished beef right here in central Kentucky. We hope to include more areas into eastern gamagrass as we complete more pasture renovations. We'd love to chat more about what makes gamagrass unique and how we are leveraging this for the good of our herd, so drop us a comment below!