Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 10, 2006
Publication Date: December 10, 2006
Citation: Brink, G.E., Casler, M.D. 2006. Evaluating the Potential of Meadow Fescue for Grazing Lands. Proceedings of the Third National Grazing Lands Conference, December 10-13, 2006, St. Louis, Missouri. Technical Abstract: Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis Huds.) has potential for grazing-based livestock systems, but producer knowledge of this temperate grass is lacking. Previous research established that it has excellent intake compared to other pasture grasses, and winter-hardy, disease-resistant varieties have been released. A broader assessment of its growth potential is needed as a basis for recommending this grass to producers. Orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L., 'Bronc'), soft-leaf tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb., 'Barolex'), and meadow fescue ('Bartura', 'Hidden Valley', and WMF1) were compared under intensive rotational grazing (16 to 24 days cycle), frequent and infrequent mechanical harvest (17 and 35 day interval) at two heights (2 and 4 in; 5 and 10 cm), and five annual nitrogen fertilization rates (0, 60, 120, 180, 240 lb N/A; 0, 67.2, 134.4, 201.6, 268.8 kg N/ha) in southwestern and northcentral Wisconsin. Under grazing and hay management, meadow fescue usually provided greater annual yield, with the greatest advantage occurring in the spring and early summer. Forage quality of meadow fescue was greater than or equal to the other grasses throughout the growing season. Orchardgrass had the highest efficiency of forage production in response to N fertilization, producing 18 to 21 lb DM/lb N applied. Our results suggest that meadow fescue warrants consideration in temperate environments where orchardgrass and tall fescue are adapted.