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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Forage systems for beef production from conception to slaughter: 2. Stocker systems
Year: 1992
Author(s): Allen, V. G., Fontenot, J. P., Notter, D. R.
Source Title: Journal of Animal Science
Source Type: Journal
pages: 588-596
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Fall weaned Angus calves grazed stockpiled 1) tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb), 2) tall fescue-red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), or 3) tall fescue-alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) or were barn-fed, 4) tall fescue hay, 5) orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.)-alfalfa hay, or 6) tall fescue silage from late October to early April during each of 5 yr. Infection of the fescue with Acremonium coenophialum ranged from 0 to 55%. There were two replications each of steers and heifers for each forage system in a completely random design. Each replicate was grazed by three Angus stockers, except for System 1, which was grazed by six stockers, for a total of 420 stockers. Each pasture replicate contained .8 ha (except System 1, which was 1.6 ha), and the stocking rate was one stocker per .27 ha. Fescue hay and silage were harvested each spring for barn-fed systems from the area stockpiled for grazing by cattle in System 1. Nitrogen fertilizer (90 kg/ha) was applied in early spring and again in early August, before stockpiling: no N was applied to stockpiled fescue grown with legumes. Daily gains by calves grazing stockpiled fescue-alfalfa were greater (P < .01) than by calves grazing stockpiled fescue-red clover or N-fertilized stockpiled fescue (.50, .33, and .34 kg/d, respectively), but fescue-alfalfa calves required more days (P < .01) of supplemental hay feeding (105, 60, and 36, respectively). Calves fed fescue hay in the barn gained more (P < .01) than those fed fescue silage. Feeding orchardgrass-alfalfa hay resulted in greater gain (P < .01) than feeding fescue hay or fescue silage (.50 vs .18 and .07 kg/d, respectively). Differences in gains paralleled differences in DMI by cattle fed either hay or silage. Grazing stockpiled fescue-alfalfa gave animal performance similar to that resulting from the feeding of alfalfa-orchardgrass hay and required approximately half as much conserved forage. Several forage systems can be successfully used to winter stocker cattle, but animal performance and requirements for stored feed differ among systems. Fescue stockpiled with alfalfa instead of by applying N fertilizer reduced yield, but improved gain by stocker cattle, compared with N-fertilized fescue.