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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Management and utilization of switchgrass by yearling steers in western Iowa
Year: 1984
Author(s): Barnhart, S.K., Wedin, W.F.
Source Title: Proceedings of the Forage and Grassland Conference
Source Type: Proceedings
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Warm-season grasses were a major component of Iowa’s native prairies. Thus, it is not surpring that there is increasing interest in using warm-season grasses in grazing systems with cool-season forage species. The studies reported here were conducted to evaluate switchgrass as a component in cool-season/warm-season grass pasture systems in western Iowa. Two 4 to 5 acre pastures each of Blackwell switchgrass and Blair smooth bromegrass were grazed in 1975-80 and 1982 using yearling beef steers as test animals. Switchgrass produced a greater number of steer days of grazing and more live weight gain (LWG) during the summer months than did smooth bromegrass. As a component in a system of cool-season and warm-season grasses, switchgrass produced about 46% of the total steer grazing days and provided 16% less animal product per acre than smooth bromegrass. Weighted average daily gains (ADG) of steers on switchgrass were slightly higher than those for smooth bromegrass (1.66 lb vs 1.48 lb). Animal output per acre from the switchgrass-smooth bromegrass system (298 lb LWG per acre) was lower than that obtained from nitrogen (N) fertlized smooth bromegrass (366 lb ADG per acre) at the same location in earlier studies. Grazing frequency, grazing pressure, and weed control practices with switchgrass will require further studies before determining whether switchgrass-smooth bromegrass pasture systems will be a profitable alternative for western Iowa beef producers.
Publisher: American Forage and Grassland Council. Houston, Texas