Perennial Irrigated Pastures. II. Average Daily Gain and Carcass Characteristics of Yearling Beef Steers on Irrigated Pasture Supplemented by Alfalfa Cubes1
- C. A. Raguse,
- J. L. Hull,
- D. W. Henderson and
- A. Osman2
Recent high grain prices and other factors have led to a resurgence of interest in greater use of forages in beef production. An experiment was designed to test the effects of combinations of perennial irrigated pasture and alfalfa cubes on gains and carcass characteristics of yearling beef steers. The treatments consisted of irrigated pasture only, three combinations of irrigated pasture supplemented by increasing amounts of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cubes, and a fifth treatment consisting of alfalfa cubes only. The pastures were 6-year-old stands of 55% orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.), 25% strawberry clover (Trifolium fragiferum L.), 15% perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), and 5% Ladino clover (T. repens L.), providing a seasonal average grass: legume ratio of 70:30. The soil was the Yolo series of a finesilty, mixed, nonacid, thermic, typic xerorthent entisol. Stocking rates were 7.7, 9.4, 11.6, and 15.5 animals per ha, respectively, for the above treatments during a 200-day grating season. Average daily cube intake per animal for the five treatments ranged from zero through 1.7, 2.7, 4.3 and 9.9 kg, respectively.
Average daily gain, daily energy gain, and body weight gain for the irrigated pasture-only and all pasture-cube combinations were significantly different from the cubesonly treatment, but not from each other. Measurements of botanical composition and plant heights indicated that the various stocking rates imposed moderate and similar grazing pressures throughout the season.
The carcass characteristics of percent protein, fat, and water were statistically the same for all cube-pasture combinations, as was energy/kg gain.
Because of the absence of statistical significance (0.01 level) for differences in weight gain, energy gain, and carcass characteristics for the pasture-cube treatments, it was concluded that they were equal in relation to beef production and market quality. These management combinations, over the range studied, are therefore biologically sound and their acceptance would depend on economic and/or other factors.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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