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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Performance of Holstein replacement heifers grazing switchgrass or combinations of big bluestem and indiangrass during the summer in the Mid-South
Year: 2010
Author(s): Waller, J., Doxon, E., Keyser, P., Bates, G., Schrick, F.
Source Title:
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 5
Original Publication:  
Abstract: This experiment was conducted to determine the performance of pregnant Holstein dairy heifers grazing switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) or a combination of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) during summer. Study 1 (June 5 to August 10, 2009) and Study 2 (May 14 to August 9, 2010) were conducted at the Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center near Spring Hill, TN. Heifers (Study 1, 1067 +- 33 lb; Study 2, 996 +- 106 lb) were used in a completely randomized design with two forage treatments: 1) switchgrass (SG) and 2) a combination of big bluestem and indiangrass (BB/IG). Stands were two and three years old at beginning of Studies 1 and 2, respectively. Initial and final body weight of heifers was established using an equilibration ration to adjust for gut fill. A put-and-take system used three heifers (testers) in Study1 and four heifers in Study 2 allotted to 3 acre paddocks with eight replications per treatment. Additional heifers were used to keep forage in a vegetative state. Heifers had free choice access to pasture, water, mineral, and shade. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure in SAS. Least square means for ADG of heifers were different (P < 0.05) for heifers grazing SG or BB/IG. The ADG were 1.49, 2.04 lb/d in Study1 and 1.40, 1.69 lb/d in Study 2 for SG and BB/IG, respectively. Our results demonstrate the ability of native warm-season grasses to provide suitable summer forage and animal performance for dairy heifers.
Publisher: Proceedings of the Seventh Eastern Native Grass Symposium. Knoxville, TN, October 5-8, 2010
Editor(s): C. Harper