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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVED PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR PASTURES AND RANGELANDS IN THE TEMPERATE SEMIARID REGIONS OF THE WESTERN U.S. Title: Relative cattle preference of 24 forage kochia (Kochia prostrata) entries and its relation to forage nutritive value and morphological characteristics

Authors
item Waldron, Blair
item Davenport, Burke -
item Malecheck, John -
item Jensen, Kevin

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 12, 2010
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Citation: Waldron, B.L., Davenport, B.W., Malecheck, J.C., Jensen, K.B. 2010. Relative cattle preference of 24 forage kochia (Kochia prostrata) entries and its relation to forage nutritive value and morphological characteristics. Crop Science. 50:2112-2123.

Interpretive Summary: Forage kochia [Kochia prostrata (L. Shrad.)] is a perennial shrub that has been shown to have potential as a nutritious fall and winter forage on western rangelands. However, little is known about its utilization by cattle. This study was conducted to determine differences in cattle utilization among 24 forage kochia entries and relate them to nutritional and morphological characteristics. The utilization of forage kochia was also compared to 'Ladak' alfalfa [Medicato sativa (L.)] and two entries of winterfat (Krashnennikovia spp.). All forage kochia entries were consumed to some level, ranging from 260 to 42 g plant-1, and 71 to 35% consumption. Three forage kochia entries, Immigrant, BC-118, and U-20, and Ladak alfalfa were more consumed than the other entries. Pre-grazing biomass, phenological maturity, branch density, and leafiness were associated with greater consumption, suggesting that highly productive, leafy, less mature plants of forage kochia are preferred by cattle. Crude protein, fiber, and digestibility were moderately associated with, but were not consistent predictors of utilization, suggesting that nutritional quality plays only a secondary role in cattle utilization of forage kochia. Overall, we conclude that forage kochia is a palatable shrub for cattle grazing during the fall, with utilization of some entries being comparable to alfalfa and greater than winterfat. Grazing behavior also suggeted that forage kochia growing in a mixture with adapted grasses would enhance animal performance and range productivity.

Technical Abstract: Forage kochia [Kochia prostrata (L. Shrad.)] has been shown to have potential as a nutritious fall and winter forage on western rangelands; however, its utilization by livestock is not well understood. This study was conducted to determine differences in cattle utilization among 24 forage kochia entries and relate them to nutritional and morphological characteristics. The utilization of forage kochia was also compared to 'Ladak' alfalfa [Medicago sativa (L.)] and two entries of winterfat (Krashnennikovia spp.). Utilization was determined by the amount and percent of biomass consumed, using controlled grazing periods on replicated, spaced-plant plots near Promontory, Utah, during late September of 2002 and 2003. Significant differences (P<0.01) were found for utilization among forage kochia accessions; however, all entries were consumed to some level, ranging from 260 to 42 g plant-1, and 71 to 35% consumption. Three forage kochia entries, Immigrant, BC-118, and U-20, and Ladak alfalfa, had significantly higher percent biomass consumed than the other forage kochia or winterfat entries. Traits highly associated with biomass consumed included pre-grazing biomass (r=0.93, P<0.0001), phenological maturity (r=-0.85, P<0.0001), branch density (r=0.80, P<0.0001), and leafiness (r=0.70, P=0.0001) suggesting that highly productive, leafy, less mature plants of forage kochia are preferred by cattle. Crude protein, fiber, and digestibility were moderately associated with, but were not consistent predictors of utilization, suggesting that nutritional quality plays only a secondary role in cattle utilization of forage kochia. Overall, we conclude that forage kochia is a palatable shrub for cattle grazing during the fall, with utilization of some entries being comparable to alfalfa and greater than winterfat. Grazing behavior also suggested that forage kochia growing in a mixutre with adapted grasses would enhance animal performance and range productivity.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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