In some parts of the country, stocker operators use early intensive stocking of cattle, up to double normal stocking rates, to take advantage of rapid forage growth early in the season. This system can result in higher total beef production per acre, even with the grazing season significantly shortened. KansasStateUniversity researchers have conducted several trials to test whether an intensive early stocking program could work on shortgrass rangeland in western Kansas.

In that area, stockers typically graze from May to October under continuous season-long stocking. In earlier trials, researchers found that total production for early double-stocking from May 1 to July 15 was not higher compared to normal-stocked, season-long grazing in western Kansas. They then tested a system for four years using early double-stocking but removing half of the cattle at mid-season. This resulted in reduced animal performance, particularly for the cattle that remained on the pastures season-long. Early-season animal gains were 15 percent lower than for season-long stocking at normal rates in two out of four years, and among the animals that remained on pasture for the full   season, individual gains were 25 percent lower for the modified system in three of four years.

Then from 2002 to 2007 they early-stocked at 1.6 times the season-long rate and removed the heaviest animals at mid-season, returning to normal stocking rates for the rest of the season. The goal of this system, the researchers note, was to retain maximum early-season gains with greater animal density, and to increase late-season gains per animal and gains per acre by allowing more forage regrowth and availability for the remaining animals. Removal of the heaviest animals at mid-season also results in heavier, more uniform animals for direct placement into the feedlot.