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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Grass-Legume Mixtures to Enhance Sustainability of Irrigated Pastures

Location: Forage and Range Research

Project Number: 2080-21000-014-06
Project Type: General Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 01, 2011
End Date: Sep 30, 2014

Objective:
(1) Compare livestock performance, economics, and subsequent carcass characteristics from beef grazing grass monocultures and low- and high-tannin grass-legume mixtures versus traditional feedlot-based finishing; (2) Determine best possible grass-legume mixtures and plant densities that maximize pasture productivity and nutritional quality; and (3) Determine the effects of tannins on nutrient cycling in grazing systems.

Approach:
To compare livestock performance, economics, and subsequent meat quality of beef produced from grass monocultures versus low- and high-tannin grass-legume mixtures. (1) Determine if tall fescue (TF)-legume mixed pastures will enhance livestock performance (ADG, feed efficiency, intake, and nutrient digestibility) and to compare if the animal performance will be further improved when animals are grazed on TF-birdsfoot trefoil (BFT) mixed pasture; (2) Investigate in vitro fermentation characteristics of forage pastures used in grazing study with emphasis on microbial protein synthesis and ruminal fatty acid (FA) composition; (3) Assess how different compositions of pasture alter carcass characteristics and beef quality; (4) Determine the differences in the FA composition of beef from pasture-finished vs. feedlot-finished cattle and the time required for changes in FA composition to occur; and (5) Assess the economics and barriers to adoption of grazing-based beef production, develop an effective extension program to facilitate the adoption of grazing management for beef production, and create an awareness of the beneficial nutrient management and other environmental impacts of such an exchange.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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