Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2003
Publication Date: June 30, 2004
Citation: Gillen, R.L., Springer, T.L. 2004. Production and grazing management for eastern gamagrass [abstract]. In: Proceedings 2nd National Conference on Grazing Lands, December 8-10, 2003, Nashville, TN. p. 878. Technical Abstract: Eastern gamagrass is a tall-growing grass native to the southeastern quarter of the USA. Eastern gamagrass grows in the warmer months and has several positive characteristics including an early start for spring growth, high forage production, and excellent palatability to beef cattle. These characteristics make eastern gamagrass attractive for livestock production but research on grazing management is limited. Rotational stocking, subdivision of pastures and movement of cattle among subdivisions, is required for maintenance of eastern gamagrass. During the grazing periods, eastern gamagrass should not be grazed below a height of 6 to 8 inches. Rest periods should be 30-45 days with a final 45-day rest period before killing frost. More intensive grazing management can increase grazing capacity by 53% and beef production by 97%. Forage production is relatively high and ranges from 7110 to 15730 lb/acre. The grass responds well to nitrogen (N) fertilizer with optimum application rates of 300 to 400 lb N/acre/year in high rainfall areas to 70 to 150 lb N/acre/year in low rainfall areas. The nutritional value of eastern gamagrass is high in May but declines rapidly to a low point in August. Eastern gamagrass has mainly been used as summer forage for growing beef cattle. Growing cattle grazing eastern gamagrass gain 2.5 to 2.7 lb/head/day early in the growing season and 1.0 to 1.5 lb/head/day late in the growing season. Because of the expense and time required for establishment, producers should be committed to upper-level management before adopting eastern gamagrass. This information will help producers determine how eastern gamagrass can be used in their operation, give them management guides for optimum production, and further the adoption and use of this valuable grass.