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  1. Vol. 46 No. 1, p. 216-223
     
    Received: June 29, 2005
    Published: Jan, 2006


    * Corresponding author(s): joe_burns@ncsu.edu
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doi:10.2135/cropsci2005.04-0040

Intake and Digestion of ‘Jesup’ Tall Fescue Hays with a Novel Fungal Endophyte, without an Endophyte, or with a Wild-Type Endophyte

  1. J. C. Burns *a and
  2. D. S. Fisherb
  1. a USDA-ARS and Dep. Crop Science and Dep. Animal Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695
    b USDA-ARS, Watkinsville, GA 30677. Cooperative investigation of the USDA-ARS and the North Carolina ARS, Raleigh, NC 27695-7643

Abstract

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is an important forage resource for beef (Bos taurus L.) production in the North–South transition zone. Recently, the cultivar ‘Jesup’ was released to provide improved stand survival when infected with a novel (nontoxic) endophyte marketed as MaxQ (Pennington Seed, Madison, GA), and warrants evaluation as a source of winter hay for beef cattle. Intake and digestion experiments were conducted to evaluate Jesup tall fescue containing the MaxQ endophyte (presumably without ergot alkaloids), Jesup with no endophyte, and Jesup with a wild-type endophyte capable of producing ergot alkaloids. Initial growth of the three endophyte treatments was harvested in April and a regrowth harvested in June. These six hays were fed to goats (Capra hircus L.) and sheep (Ovis aries L.). The hays harvested in June were also fed to cattle. The digestibility of the endophyte treatments was similar but goats had greater daily dry matter intake when fed MaxQ compared with wild-type hay (2.63 vs. 2.43 kg 100−1 kg body weight; P = 0.07) while intake was similar to the endophyte-free hay. Sheep consumed hays similarly, regardless of harvest date, as did steers fed the June harvest. Daily intake of hays harvested in April and June were similar for goats, whereas sheep consumed more of the April hays (2.89 vs. 2.57 kg 100−1 kg body weight; P < 0.01) and both digested the April hays to a greater extent. Endophyte status of the hays had little influence on their quality.

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