Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Jones, Jeanne C.

Committee Member

Leopold, Bruce D.

Committee Member

Vann, Rhonda C.

Committee Member

Riffell, Samuel K.

Committee Member

Jones, W. Daryl

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


To ascertain potential ecological and landowner benefits of non-conventional agricultural systems, this project was designed to monitor cattle production and mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) utilization of land areas that allowed grazing cattle to harvest corn planted with no-till methods. In 2005-2008, study sites were located in four counties of MS, including four steer/heifer-grazed and harvested corn fields (SHS) and four conventionally-managed and combine-harvested corn fields (CHS). Vegetation characteristics, residual grain quantities, and use by doves were measured on SHS and CHS. Steer average daily gains (ADG), quality grades, and feedlot days were compared to traditional cattle production methods. Mourning dove numbers were greater on SHS than CHS during all study years and site locations (F=37.19, df=1, P=0.001). Biomass of residual corn kernels on the soil surface was greater on SHS compared to CHS in the fall (t=7.22, df=8, P= 0.001). Percentage coverage of grasses and forbs was greater in SHS than CHS in fall following harvest of corn with grass/forbs coverage being >10% in SHS and <5% in CHS. Throughout all seasons, percentage of bare ground was greater on CHS (50% - 80%) compared to SHS (1%-13%). Among average daily gains of grassed, corn-grazed, and feedlot fed cattle, a significant difference was detected (x2 = 8.45, df = 2, P = 0.002). Corn-grazed ADG was greater than bermudagrass-grazed but less than MS steers in the feedlot. Comparing conventionally-produced cattle of comparable characteristics to corned cattle used in my study, a significant decrease in feedlot days (Z =-1.83, P = 0.033) with no difference in quality grades of meat (Z = -0.65, P = 0.256) in no-till corn-grazed cattle was indicated. After offsetting costs of field preparation, fencing, and cattle maintenance, landowners using this production system can potentially increase income by at least $450/ha from fee/lease of corn fields for hunting and production of quality beef cattle.



no-till corn||natural beef production||mourning doves||wildlife enterprising