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Crop Science Abstract - FORAGE & GRAZING LANDS

Ruminant Selection among Switchgrass Hays Cut at Either Sundown or Sunup


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 45 No. 4, p. 1394-1402
    Received: June 30, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): dwight_fisher@scientist.com
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  1. D. S. Fisher *a,
  2. J. C. Burnsb and
  3. H. F. Maylandc
  1. a USDA-ARS, JPCS Natural Resource Conservation Center, 1420 Experiment Station Road, Watkinsville, GA 30677-2373
    b USDA-ARS, Crop Science Dep., and Animal Science Dep., Box 7620, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7620
    c USDA-ARS, Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Lab., 3793 N. 3600 E., Kimberly, ID 83341


As a result of photosynthesis, plants typically have greater concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates at the end of the photoperiod. The preference of ruminants for hays harvested within the same 24-h period can be greater for plants harvested late in the photoperiod with increased soluble carbohydrate. To test for variation in ruminant preference for afternoon versus morning harvested hays in a C4 grass harvested in the humid east, established fields of ‘Kanlow’ and ‘Alamo’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) were used to produce hays in 1998, 1999, and 2000 near Raleigh, NC. Harvests were paired so that each cutting in the evening (PM) was followed by a cutting the next morning (AM). We harvested in this manner three times in 1998 to produce six Kanlow hays; twice with Kanlow and once with Alamo at two levels of nitrogen fertility in 1999 to produce eight hays; and three times in 2000 to produce six Alamo hays. The hays were field-dried, baled, and passed through a hydraulic bale processor. Hays from each year were tested with cattle (Bos taurus L.), goats (Capra hircus L.), and sheep (Ovis aries L.). During an adaptation phase, hays were offered individually. In the experimental phase, all possible pairs of hays were presented. Data were analyzed by multidimensional scaling and by traditional analyses. Multidimensional scaling indicated that selection was based on multiple criteria. The suite of improvements associated with PM-harvested hays in fiber content, digestibility, and nonstructural carbohydrate observed for alfalfa and fescue hays in the western USA was difficult to reproduce with switchgrass hay in the southeastern USA. This difficulty is likely related to the less favorable environment for haymaking as well as the physiology, anatomy, and morphology of this C4 grass.

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