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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Performance of beef cattle grazing native warm-season grasses in Tennessee
Year: 2010
Author(s): Backus, W., Waller, J., Keyser, P., Bates, G., Harper, C.
Source Title:
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 6
Original Publication:  
Abstract: Native warm-season grasses have the potential to provide high-quality summer forage for livestock prior to being harvested for biofuels. However, performance of cattle grazing nwsg in the Mid-South is poorly documented. We allowed cattle to graze nwsg at Research and Education Centers near Grand Junction, Springfield, and Greeneville, TN in late spring 2010. Weaned beef steers (594 +- 27.6 lb) were used in a completely randomized design with three forage treatments: 1) switchgrass (SG); 2) a combination of big bluestem and indiangrass (BB/IG); and 3) eastern gamagrass (EG). There were three replicates of each treatment. A put-and-take system was used with four steers (testers) allotted to each 3-acre paddock. Additional steers were used to keep forage in a vegetative state. Steers had free choice access to pasture, water, mineral, and shade. A high-fiber equilibration ration was fed 5 days before and after the 30-day grazing period to adjust for gut fill. Least squares means for average daily gain (ADG) of steers grazing BB/IG differed from EG and SG (P < 0.05). There was no difference between steers grazing SG and EG. The ADG of steers grazing BB/IG, SG, and EG was 2.64, 2.21 and 1.69 lb/d, respectively. Our results demonstrate the ability of these nwsg to provide summer forage and animal performance for beef stocker cattle.
Publisher: Proceedings of the Seventh Eastern Native Grass Symposium. Knoxville, TN, October 5-8, 2010
Editor(s): C. Harper