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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVEMENT OF DAIRY FORAGE AND MANURE MANAGEMENT TO REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL RISK Title: Forage quality and feeding management for eastern gamagrass in wisconsin

item Coblentz, Wayne
item Hoffman, Patrick -
item Esser, Nancy -
item Bertram, Michael -

Submitted to: Experiment Station Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: February 19, 2014
Publication Date: March 14, 2014
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Hoffman, P.C., Esser, N.M., Bertram, M.G. 2014. Forage quality and feeding management for eastern gamagrass in wisconsin. Experiment Station Bulletins. Vol. 16. No. 2.

Technical Abstract: Eastern gamagrass (EGG) is a tall-growing, perennial warm-season grass, and a distant relative of corn. It retains many of the typical nutritional characteristics associated with perennial warm-season grasses that include: i) high concentrations of cell-wall components, such as NDF, even when harvested at very immature growth stages; ii) slower and/or poorer digestibility; and iii) greater proportions of crude protein that are associated with NDF, and that bypass ruminal degradation. Throughout Wisconsin, chopped straw often is purchased for use as forage in diets of dairy cattle to provide additional fiber, and maintain proper rumen function. For replacement heifers, straw is used commonly to dilute the energy density of the diet, limit voluntary intake, and prevent over-conditioning, especially within diets constructed for pregnant heifers weighing >1000 lbs. Unfortunately, the use of straw has several well-known problems. It often must be purchased, and then processed, before it can be blended properly within total mixed rations. Chopped straw also is sorted routinely by dairy cows and replacement heifers, which complicates its use in production situations where (inadequate) bunk space prevents all animals from eating simultaneously. Recent research in Wisconsin has shown that EGG haylage is non-sortable in blended diets, and can be used to limit excessive weight gains by dairy heifers. This is accomplished by both diluting the energy density of the diet, as well as limiting voluntary intake. Eastern gamagrass offers a unique alternative to chopped straw that is not sorted by dairy cattle.

Last Modified: 8/27/2016
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