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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 78 No. 4, p. 675-680
    Received: Apr 26, 1985

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Forage Growth, Consumption, and Performance of Steers Grazing Bermudagrass and Fescue Mixtures1

  1. Ronald L. Mitchell,
  2. J. B. McLaren and
  3. Henry A. Fribourg2



Detailed information regarding forage quality and pasture productivity of various species and combinations that support rapid animal gains in the southeastern USA is needed for successful stocker cattle performance prior to feedlot placement. To evaluate productivity and quality of pastures for grazing beef (Bos taurus L.) steers, an experiment was conducted in 1979-1981 on a Typic Hapludalf. The 1.2 ha pastures were (i) Midland bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.) + tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) seeded in 25-cm rows + N, (ii) Midland + fescue in 25-cm rows + legumes, (iii) Midland + fescue in 50-cm rows + legumes, (iv) fescue + legumes, (v) common bermudagrass + fescue in 25-cm rows + legumes, and (vi) orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) + ladino clover (Trifolium repens L.). Legumes refer to overseedings of ladino clover, red clover (T. pratense L.) and ‘Kobe’ lespedeza (Lespedeut striata (Thunb.) H & A). Midland + fescue at 25 cm + N pastures were topdressed with 290 kg N ha−1 each year. Pastures were grazed using a continuous put-and-take grazing management with stocking rate adjustments made to maintain orchardgrass at 8 to 14 cm and other pasture combinations at 5 to 8 cm. Forage growth and consumption were estimated by the cage-and-strip method. Yearling beef steers averaging 230 kg in the spring grazed 131 to 168 days and were weighed at 21-day intervals. Forage dry matter (DM) yield was 14.2 Mg ha−1 for Midland + fescue at 25 cm and ranged between 6.8 and 9.1 Mg ha−1 for the other treatments. Forage consumption was 70% or more of growth in all treatments. Crude protein ranged from 134 to 158 g kg−1. Neutral detergent fiber ranged from 600 to 670 g kg−1, and acid detergent fiber was 390 g kg−1. Stocking rates were between 3.2 and 7.7 steers ha−1. Average daily gains were greatest on orchardgrass + clover (869 g day−1) and ranged from 478 to 821 g day−1 for the other pastures. Productivity was 591 animal grazing days ha−1 for common + fescue at 25 cm + legumes, 1537 for Midland + fescue at 25 cm, and ranged from 605 to 833 for the other pastures. Daily forage DM intake was 6.3 to 9.9 kg steer−1. Beef production was 392, 474, 510, 545, 597, and 630 kg ha−1 for common + fescue at 25 cm + legumes, Midland + fescue at 50 cm + legumes, Midland + fescue at 25 cm + legumes, orchardgrass + clover, fescue + legumes, and Midland + fescue at 25 cm + N, respectively.

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