Grazing Systems Deliver
Healthy Forage That Keep Animals Nourished All Year
ARS wants to improve the stability and
profitability of forage production. Two research units located in the central
Great Plain states of Oklahoma and Nebraska demonstrate the agency's commitment
to this purpose.
The mission of the ARS
Research Laboratory in El Reno, Okla., is to enhance forage and livestock
production and develop management strategies that incorporate climate risk,
promote sustainability, and conserve the productivity of grazinglands resources
in the Great Plains.
Managing intensive grazing systems for
forage-finishing of livestock and dairy production requires increased
efficiency in nutrient use.
William A. Phillips, an animal
nutritionist in El Reno, found that kenaf, a crop usually grown in many parts
of the world as a source of fiber and in the United States to make paper, could
replace alfalfa pellets as
a crude protein
supplement for lambs fed bermudagrass or fescue hay without affecting feed
intake or weight gain.
To produce alfalfa hay, farmers have to make a multi-year
commitment of land and resources that is not always optimal for some integrated
cropping-livestock enterprises. Kenaf, in some cases, would provide producers
with more flexibility than a perennial crop.
Researchers in El Reno also recently found
that the legume pigeonpea could help fill a gap in the year-round availability
of nutritious forages for cattle producers.
Pigeonpea, a legume
with excellent drought resistance, is used widely in Asia for human food and
Pigeonpea is environmentally friendly and
sustainable, according to agronomist Srinivas C. Rao. Studies found it had
yields and nutritive values during the summer equal to those of other forage
crops used in the region. It can be used during the late summer and fall forage
deficit period in a continuous winter wheat production system.
Grazing management also requires a great
understanding of animal capabilities, husbandry needs, and grazing behavior.
Studies at the El Reno laboratory and the
Agricultural Research Station in Brooksville, Fla., found that remote
sensing could soon be used to give real-time quality assessments and
nutritional landscape mapping of grazing lands to help users make
better-informed harvesting decisions.
techniques that use detection and measurement of reflected or emitted
light, heat, sound and radio waves could one day replace time-consuming forage
analysis methods, such as near-infrared spectrometry and chemical procedures.
Researchers used Midland bermudagrass and
other warm-season grasses to compare current methods and remote-sensing
techniques to detect concentrations of nitrogen and other components. Remotely
acquired information was done in hours, soil scientist Patrick Starks said,
which is much faster than conventional lab analysis.
Central and Northern Great Plains cattle
will soon be enjoying new wheatgrass
cultivars developed by ARS scientists at the
Sorghum and Forage Research Unit in Lincoln, Neb., and cooperators at the
University of Nebraska.
Two of three recent releases have been
turned over to seed growers and should be available for spring and fall 2005
plantings, according to Ken Vogel, the Lincoln unit's research leader.
Beefmaker is recommended as a pasture
forage for yearling beef steers because it is protein-packed and readily
digested. Haymaker is intended as a cool-season hay crop for maintaining beef
El Reno, Lincoln and Brooksville aren't
the only places ARS conducts forage research. The program includes research at
more than 30 other locations throughout the United States, which are part of
Pasture, and Forages, an ARS national program (#205) designed, in part, to
improve the quality and quantity of forages available for livestock. Under the
direction of this program, ARS research evaluates grazing impacts in various
environments and develops management practices and techniques that assess and
monitor sustained livestock production from grazing lands.
This ARS national program aims to provide
technology to conserve the natural resource base, while enhancing the
productivity, sustainability and ecological health of the nation's rangeland.
For more information, contact the
Phillips, El Reno, Okla.
C. Rao, El Reno, Okla.
Starks, El Reno, Okla
Vogel, Lincoln, Neb.
ARS researchers in Ohio are studying different
for grazing dairy cattle.
(740) 545-6349, ext. 203
Free-range, organically produced poultry and
conventionally produced poultry both test positive for Salmonella in
equal numbers, an
ARS study found.
ARS' National Center for Genetic Resources
Preservation recently released Holstein bull semen samples to university
researchers, the first time the center released
from its collection.
Turkey genes containing key proteins important
for hen fertility can now be analyzed with an ARS scientist's
ARS scientists are studying cattle genes that
may contribute to leaner cuts of beef.
ARS recently inducted Keith E. Gregory into the
agency's Hall of Fame for his contributions to beef cattle