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Crop Science Abstract - FORAGE & GRAZING LANDS

Pasture and Stocker Cattle Performance on Furrow-Irrigated Alfalfa and Tall Wheatgrass Pastures, Southern High Plains, USA


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 45 No. 1, p. 305-315
    Received: Jan 13, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): lmlaur@nmsu.edu
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  1. L. M. Lauriault *a,
  2. R. E. Kirkseya,
  3. G. B. Donartb,
  4. J. E. Sawyerc and
  5. D. M. VanLeeuwend
  1. a Agric. Sci. Center at Tucumcari, New Mexico State Univ., 6502 Quay Road AM.5, Tucumcari, NM 88401
    b Retired, Dep. of Anim. and Range Sci., Box 3003 MSC 3-I, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM 88003
    c Dep. of Anim. Sci., 2471 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2471
    d Dep. of Agric. and Ext. Educ., Agric. Biometrics Service, P. O. Box 30003, MSC 3501, Las Cruces, NM 88003


Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and tall wheatgrass [Agropyron elongatum (Host) Beauv., = Elytrigia elongata (Host) Nevski] monocultures and mixtures were rotationally and continuously grazed by beef stockers (Bos taurus L.) in the 1999 to 2001 growing seasons. Pastures sown with 5.1 kg pure live seed (PLS) ha−1 alfalfa and 13.5 kg PLS ha−1 tall wheatgrass produced regrowth containing approximately 60% alfalfa, while postgrazing herbage mass was approximately 50% alfalfa. No differences (P < 0.05) were significant for season mean (means of six measurement dates) regrowth or postgrazing herbage mass. There also was no date × pasture treatment interaction for postgrazing herbage mass, indicating the pastures were treated equally with regard to grazing pressure. Interactions involving year, date, and pasture type had no effect on cumulative animal gain ha−1 [kg live weight (LW) ha−1 yr−1]. Pastures containing alfalfa gave a twofold increase in gain ha−1 over monoculture tall wheatgrass (962 vs. 464 kg LW ha−1 yr−1 for pastures containing alfalfa and monoculture tall wheatgrass, respectively), caused by differences in stocking rate (6.42 vs. 3.55 animals ha−1 for pastures containing alfalfa and monoculture tall wheatgrass, respectively) and average daily gain (ADG) (0.94 vs. 0.82 kg LW animal−1 d−1 for pastures containing alfalfa and monoculture tall wheatgrass, respectively). Bloat was not observed in cattle grazing continuously stocked alfalfa–tall wheatgrass pastures, but it was in rotationally stocked pastures that included alfalfa every year. Producers in the Southern High Plains may improve animal gain ha−1 by including alfalfa in tall wheatgrass pastures and possibly reduce the incidence of bloat by continuous stocking.

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