Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 15, 2004
Publication Date: February 1, 2005
Citation: Starks, P.J., Phillips, W.A., Coleman, S.W. 2005. Strategic feed supplementation via remote sensing [abstract]. Society for Range Management, 58th Annual Meeting and Trade Show, February 5-11, 2005, Fort Worth, Texas. 2005 CDROM. Technical Abstract: The diet quality of free-ranging animals is difficult to determine, but livestock producers need tools to predict supplemental feeding needs of cattle to help reduce costs. Earlier we demonstrated that remotely sensed data could be used to predict concentrations of crude protein, neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber in live, standing forage. We hypothesized that real-time assessments of crude protein content of live, standing forage would enable development of an efficient supplementation strategy for summer stockers. Beginning on June 1, 2003 canopy reflectances from bermudagrass pastures were collected each week throughout the study period and converted into estimates of crude protein content. When the remote estimates of crude protein declined to reach the trigger value of 6.8%, a protein supplement was fed. This method was compared to a fixed-date initiation of supplementation and to crude protein determined from fecal analysis of the stockers. Results indicate that remotely sensed estimates of crude protein agreed well with laboratory analysis of clipped vegetation samples. Animal performance was typical of stocker calves grazing warm season grasses in the Southern Great Plains. Crude protein estimates derived from remote sensing suggested that supplemental feed needed to be provided two weeks earlier than the fixed-date initiation, and seven to ten days earlier than that provided by fecal analysis. Although preliminary, the results indicate that remote sensing can be used for strategic supplementation. The timely supplementation of stockers grazing warm season grasses will increase animal productivity.