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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Forages

Beef Cattle Production, Nutritional Quality, and Economics of Windrowed Forage vs. Baled Hay During Winter


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 99 No. 4, p. 944-951
    Received: Jan 28, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): brethess@uwyo.edu
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  1. V. Nayigihugua,
  2. A. D. Schleichera,
  3. D. W. Kochb,
  4. L. J. Heldc,
  5. J. W. Flakeb and
  6. B. W. Hess *a
  1. a Dep. of Animal Science, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071
    b Dep. of Plant Sciences, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071
    c Dep. of Applied and Agricultural Economics, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071


Production expenses associated with harvesting and feeding hay account for a large proportion of annual production costs for ruminant livestock systems. A 2-yr experiment compared windrow grazing, as a potential method to reduce winter cost, with feeding baled hay to beef cows. Two irrigated meadows (16.2 and 10.1 ha) consisting of a mixture of ‘Garrison’ creeping foxtail (Alopecurus arundinaceus Poir.) and other introduced and native forage species were either baled and removed or windrowed and left in place 26 Aug. 1999 and 27 July 2000. Forage samples were collected from windrows and baled hay at harvest and then monthly until January. Beginning in November 1999 and 2000, 64 and 54 pregnant cows, respectively, were assigned to windrowed or baled forage for 42 d. Forage acid detergent fiber (ADF) was greater (P < 0.01) in 1999 and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) tended to be greater (P = 0.09) in 2000 for windrowed than baled forage. Crude protein (CP) tended to be greater in windrowed (100 g kg−1) than baled (93 g kg−1) forage in 2000 (P = 0.08), but was similar (windrows, 89 g kg−1; bales, 90 g kg−1) in 1999 (P = 0.11). In 1999, cows offered windrowed forage had greater average daily gain (ADG = 1 kg d−1; P = 0.04) and body condition score (BCS = 5.5; P = 0.02) than cows fed baled forage [ADG = 0.66 kg−d; BCS = 5.3]. In 2000, cattle offered windrows (−0.42 kg−d) had lower (P = 0.03) ADG compared with cattle fed baled forage (0.1 kg−d). Windrow grazing was less economical under the study and management conditions than bale feeding due to high cost of watering livestock and forage wastage.

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