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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Optimizing the Biology of the Animal-Plant Interface for Improved Sustainability of Forage-Based Animal Enterprises

Location: Forage-Animal Production Research

Title: Steer and tall fescue pasture responses to grazing intensity and chemical seedhead suppression

Authors
item Goff, Ben -
item Aiken, Glen
item Witt, William -
item Burch, Patrick -
item Flynn, Ernest -

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 10, 2012
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum) is the principal cool-season species within pastures of the southeastern USA and is known to have a mutualistic relationship with a fungal endophyte (Neotyphodium coenophialum) that produces the ergot alkaloids responsible for tall fescue toxicosis. Management of the reproductive growth of tall fescue is necessary, as the seedheads contain the highest concentrations of ergot alkaloids, and livestock have been documented to selectively graze these tissues. Recently, the herbicide Chaparral™ has been shown to be an effective method to prevent seedhead production in tall fescue pastures while also increasing steer gains at a low stocking rate. The objective of this study was to compare the impact of Chaparral on steer and pasture production under multiple grazing intensities (GI). Two levels of Chaparral (0 and 2.0 oz/acre) and two levels of GI (low: 3000 ± 250 lbs/acre & moderate: 2500 ± 250 lbs/acre) treatments were arranged in a factorial combination as a RCBD with three replications. Tall fescue seedhead densities were decreased (P < 0.05) within the Chaparral-treated pastures, but efficiency of the inhibition varied slightly between growing seasons. Chaparral-treated pastures had lower (P < 0.05) forage availabilities and contained forage with higher (P < 0.05) concentrations of crude protein (CP) and in vitro digestible dry matter (IVDDM) during both growing season. Crude protein concentrations were also higher within vegetative tillers collected from Chaparral-treated pastures compared to vegetative tillers of the control pastures, which suggest that the resulting increase in forage nutritive value from Chaparral may not be solely due to lose of reproductive stems. Steers within the Chaparral-treated pastures and low GI treatment had higher average daily gains (ADG). Carrying capacities (CC) were lowest and highest within the Chaparral-low GI and control-moderate GI treatments, respectively. Estimates of CC were not different (P > 0.15) between the Chaparral-moderate GI and control-low GI treatments. The higher ADG compensated for the lower CC of the Chaparral and low GI treatments and resulted in no difference (P > 0.60) in total gain per hectare (GPH) between grazing intensities and herbicide treatments in 2011. In 2012, the GPH were higher within the control and moderate GI treatments due to a lessening in the magnitude of difference between the herbicide and GI treatments. The effects of these treatments for alleviating symptoms of tall fescue toxicosis were inconclusive due to the low levels of ergot alkaloids production.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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