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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Sward Structure: All Grasses Are Not Equal

Author
item Brink, Geoffrey

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 25, 2005
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Preliminary data indicate pasture grasses differ in sward structure (where and how yield/quality are distributed from their leaf tips down to the soil surface). This could impact intake and performance of grazing animals, depending on the grazing management. Several vegetative grass species were harvested in 2" layers from 10" to a 4" stubble in the spring, summer, and autumn. We found that in spring and summer, all grasses except perennial ryegrass had greatest yield density in the 6-10" zone. In autumn, yield density was greatest in the 4-6" zone. Forage quality always declined from the top to the bottom of grass swards. Orchardgrass, meadow fescue, and perennial ryegrass consistently had greater fiber digestibility (NDFD) than the other grasses in all layers. Among grasses, timothy, smooth bromegrass, and quackgrass generally had the greatest yield density in the spring in the 6-10" zone (potentially more forage per bite). In summer and autumn, reed canarygrass, soft-leaved tall fescue, and meadow fescue tended to have the greatest density. Orchardgrass usually had the lowest yield density in any season. Data suggest that different pasture grasses require different grazing management to get the most out of them. In addition, forage quality differences among grasses permits closer grazing of some grasses than others without forcing animals to consume poorer quality forage.

Last Modified: 8/1/2014
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