Its critical that the cattle eat a high protein diet to achieve maximum weight gain. In Azuero, the cattle ranchers that do exceptionally well with weight gain in their animals, plant “pasto mejorado” which means “better (genetic) pasture”. This pasture is generally bought from distributors in Panama that buy the seed from Brazil and other countries. Pasto mejorado is basically cattle pasture that holds more moisture than regular wild grass and is higher in protein. Generally cattle ranchers ask other cattle ranchers what worked for them and of course, see for themselves what grows better and where and select their seed in this way.
One way to select the seed is with specialists (scientists) that study soil samples for the purpose of what grass works better and where and measure protein levels of cattle pasture. This is a highly specialized job and most often these scientists (biomolecular scientists) come from abroad. In colombia ( a highly sophisticated cattle industry) there is more availability of these scientists. If you have pastures that are giving your cattle more than a 22% protein source than you are probably doing very well. Your cattle may be gaining 2 pounds or more a day, which is a profitable scenario.
In practice you will also learn how many head of cattle the land holds with the pasture you selected. You can have pasture that is high in protein but slow in the photosynthesis process and recovers a lot slower, so you cannot have cattle decimate the pasture and therefore you have to take the cattle off the pasture before they rip the roots of the pasture out of the ground, and you are left with no pasture.
Its a delicate balance between the pasture you choose, the levels of protein, the type of soil you have, the recovery of the planted grass and consequently how many cattle you can place on a hectare of planted “pasto mejorado”.