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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Lamb Performance on Orchardgrass-White Clover-Chicory Swards Fertilized with Composted Turkey Litter

item Turner, Kenneth
item Belesky, David

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2002
Publication Date: July 14, 2002

Interpretive Summary: Forage-livestock systems in the Appalachian Region depend upon a variety of forages, soil amendments, and livestock managements to achieve production goals. Turkey litter is used in southern West Virginia as an inexpensive source of N-P-K fertilizer in management of swards. Traditional forages in the Region include orchardgrass, tall fescue, bluegrass, white clover, and red clover. Chicory is a non-traditional forage and has been grown in the Appalachian Region and grazed successfully. We evaluated livestock weight gain and blood parameters when lambs grazed pastures containing chicory fertilized with composted turkey litter. There were no consistent trends on the influence of turkey litter as a fertilizer applied to pastures on grazing lamb weight gain. In 1999, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels were higher in lambs grazing paddocks fertilized 3 and 6 T of turkey litter/acre compared lambs grazing pastures fertilized only with P-K or N-P-K. Higher BUN in lambs grazing the turkey litter plots suggested that herbage crude protein levels were higher resulting in animals consuming excess protein in relation to energy. This information is currently being correlated with soil fertility, forage quality, and percolated soil water samples collected in the study. It is hopeful that this work will provide information that is useful to improve nitrogen-use efficiency in grazing livestock to better control nitrogen loss from grazed systems.

Technical Abstract: Forage-livestock systems in the Appalachian Region depend upon a variety of forage, soil amendment, and livestock management practices to achieve production goals. Diverse swards improve the seasonal distribution and nutrient use efficiency of herbage. A replicated grazing study was conducted from 1997-2001 on paddocks containing a mixture of orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.), white clover (Trifolium repens L.), and chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) to evaluate lamb weight gain and blood parameters related to sward management. Swards were fertilized with 3 (3T) or 6 (6T) ton/acre of composted turkey litter; N-P-K fertilizer (NPK); or P and K fertilizer (PK). In 1997 and 1998, lambs grazing PK had greater (P < .05) mean body weight (BW) compared to lambs grazing paddocks receiving other treatments. In 1997, lambs grazing NPK fertilized swards had higher (P < .05) blood urea nitrogen (BUN; 23.7 mg/dl) compared to those lambs grazing paddocks fertilized with 3T of turkey litter (21.9 mg/dl); lamb grazing PK (23 mg/dl) or 6T (22.5 mg/dl) were intermediate. In 1999 and averaged over the season, lambs grazing 3T (15.1 mg/dl) and 6T (15.8 mg/dl) paddocks had higher (P < .05) BUN compared to lambs grazing PK (13.2 mg/dl); lamb BUN when grazing NPK (14.5 mg/dl) was intermediate. No differences were observed in the other years.

Last Modified: 4/20/2015
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