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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 75 No. 4, p. 587-592
     
    Received: Aug 4, 1982
    Published: July, 1983


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doi:10.2134/agronj1983.00021962007500040005x

Bermudagrass, Tall Fescue, and Orchardgrass Pasture Combinations with Clover or N Fertilization for Grazing Steers. I. Forage Growth and Consumption, and Animal Performance1,2

  1. J. B. McLaren,
  2. R. J. Carlisle,
  3. H. A. Fribourg and
  4. J. M. Bryan3

Abstract

Abstract

Information on pasture productivity and forage quality of various adapted species and combinations that support rapid animal gains is needed for successfully backgrounding yearling steers in the humid southeastern USA prior to feedlot placement. To evaluate productivity and quality of pasture combinations for growing beef steers, a grazing experiment was conducted near Memphis, Tenn., in 1975 to 1977 on a Typic Hapludalf. The 1.2 ha pastures were Midland (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.) + (Trifolium repens L.) clover, Midland + N, 1/3 Midland + N plus 2/3 fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) + N in separate pastures, Midland overseeded with fescue + N, common (C. dactylon var. dactylon) + N, fescue + clover, and orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) + clover (OG + clo). Nitrogen was applied at 224 kg ha−1 y−l on bermudagrass and at 67 kg ha−l y−1 on fescue. Pastures were grazed using a modified put−and−take system maintaining orchardgrass at 7 to 14 cm high and the other grasses at 5 to 8 cm. Forage growth and consumption were determined by the cage−and−strip method. Yearling steers weighing 230 kg in the spring grazed 123 to 150 days; they were weighed at 21−day intervals and visual estimates of species composition were made at that time. Forage yield was 8.3 t/ha for Midland + fescue and ranged between 4.0 and 5.7 t/ha for the other treatments. Estimated forage consumption was 80% or more of the forage growth. Forage crude protein (122 to 152 g/kg) was sufficient for meeting the minimum requirements for growing 250− to 300−kg steers. Stocking rates were between 4 and 6 steers/ha. Average daily gains were about 475 to 575 g for all treatments, except for OG + clo (825 g/day). Pasture productivity ranged between 520 animal grazing days/ha for OG + clo to 1190 for Midland + fescue. The productivity of the other pastures was between 730 and 880 grazing days/ha. Daily forage dry matter (DM) intake was 5 to 7 kg/steer. Steers grazing OG + clo, fescue + clover, and Midland + N pastures had feed efficiencies of about 9 kg DM/kg gain; steers on the other treatments required 11 to 13 kg DM/ kg gain. Beef production was 321, 339, 375, 400, 416, 424, and 593 kg/ha for fescue + clover, common + N, 1/3 Midland − 2/3 fescue, Midland + clover, OG + clo, Midland + N, and Midland + fescue, respectively.

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