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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Forage systems for cow-calf production in the Appalachian region
Year: 2008
Author(s): Scaglia, G., Swecker, J. W., Fontenot, J.P., Fisk, D., Fike, J. H., Abaye, A. O., Clapham, W., Hall, J. B.
Source Title: Journal of Animal Science
Source Type: Journal
pages: 2032-2042
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Small cow-calf operations are common in the Appalachian region. Tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S. J. Darbyshire] is the dominant forage in these systems for direct grazing as well as for stockpiling. The present study was conducted from 2001 to 2005. A total of 108 Angus and Angus crossbred cows were allotted randomly to 6 forage systems and then to 3 replicates within each system. In brief, system 1 had a stocking rate of 0.91 ha/cow in a Middleburg 3-paddock (A, B, and C) system. System 2 was similar to system 1 except for a stocking rate of 0.71 ha/cow. A stocking rate of 0.71 ha/cow also was used in systems 3 through 6. All A paddocks had tall fescue, whereas B paddocks had tall fescue/white clover (Trifolium repens L.) except in system 6, which had tall fescue/lespedeza [Lespedeza cuneata (Dum. Cours.) G. Don]. System 3 evaluated a 2-paddock (A and B) rotational grazing system, and system 4 evaluated a 3-paddock (A, B, and C) rotational grazing system, with paddock C containing orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.). Systems 5 and 6 differed from system 2 in the areas of paddocks B and C as well as in the forage mixtures used. In paddock C, system 5 had switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and system 6 had tall fescue and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.). System 1 had the greatest average herbage availability from weaning until breeding (P < 0.05) with the least amount of hay fed (P = 0.03) when compared with the remainder of the systems. Differences (P > 0.05) in percentage of ground cover were not detected among systems. There was no year system interaction effect on the cow or calf performance variables evaluated and no treatment effect on cow performance variables. There was a treatment effect on calf performance variables. System 2 produced the greatest adjusted weaning weight, kilograms of calf weaned per hectare, and kilograms of calf per kilograms of cow at weaning (P < 0.05). Numerical ranking for total calf production per hectare from the greatest to least was system 2, 6, 3, 5, 4, and 1. Systems evaluated did not affect cow performance although differences in calf performance and overall productivity of the systems were observed.