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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Crop Economics, Production & Management

Stocker Steer Performance on Tall Fescue or Meadow Fescue Alone or in Binary Mixture with White Clover


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 106 No. 5, p. 1902-1910
    Received: Feb 10, 2014
    Published: September 24, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s): schaeferd@ansci.wisc.edu
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  1. Mitchell R. Schaefera,
  2. Kenneth A. Albrechtb and
  3. Daniel M. Schaefer *a
  1. a Dep. of Animal Sci., Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, 1675 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI 53706
    b Dep. of Agron., Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, 1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706


Little research has been conducted in the northern United States to evaluate meadow fescue [Schedonorus pratensis (Huds.) P. Beauv] or tall fescue [S. arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort] in pastures, and implications for animal performance. This research compared swards containing meadow fescue (MF) or tall fescue (TF) alone or co-established with white clover (Trifolium repens L.). Pastures were rotationally grazed with crossbred beef steers (Bos taurus, initial weight 261 kg, n = 180) using a variable stocking rate to detect treatment differences. Sward white clover percentage decreased as the trial progressed (42, 25, and 12 for years 1, 2, and 3, respectively), coinciding with decreased steer performance. Swards containing TF had greater available forage (3200 vs. 2800 kg ha–1) and less in vitro true digestibility, neutral detergent fiber digestibility, and steer average daily gain (ADG) (0.84 vs. 0.98 kg d–1) (P < 0.05) than MF swards. Adding white clover to MF and TF swards improved forage quality, steer ADG (0.98 vs. 0.84 kg d–1), and animal gain per hectare (780 vs. 680 kg ha–1) (P < 0.05) vs. monoculture grass pastures. Steers on MF pastures had greater ADG than TF pastures, but because TF pastures had greater stocking rate, gain per hectare was not different for the two grasses (728 vs. 735 kg) (P > 0.05). These results demonstrate the superior forage quality and animal performance of MF pastures, the higher productivity of TF pastures, and the need for a productive, persistent legume in upper Midwest pastures.

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