Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Endophyte-Free Tall Fescue Cultivars Grazed by Sheep: Forage Quality and Sward Characteristics

Authors
item Vecellio L C, - PENN STATE UNIVERSITY
item Jung G A,
item Harpster H W, - PENN STATE UNIVERSITY
item Shaffer J A,
item Engle C E, - PENN STATE UNIVERSITY
item Everhart J R,

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 5, 1994
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: A naturally occurring fungus in the leaf-sheaths of tall fescue has been blamed for poor animal performance when animals graze tall fescue in summer. Grazing trials conducted in the southeastern U.S. showed that animal performance was better on fungus-free tall fescue pastures than on infected tall fescue pastures. However, fungus-free tall fescue swards had dpersistence problems. In our studies, four fungus-free tall fescue cultivars were rotationally grazed by ewes and lambs for two years. Each paddock was grazed for five days. The four fungus-free tall fescue cultivars differed in biomass production, canopy height, herbage quality, and weed exclusion. Overall, Roa and Johnstone were higher in quality, but Festorina and Kentucky 31 were higher in yield. Unlike grazing trials in southeastern U.S., the fungus-free tall fescue persisted well in Pennsylvania. The research findings suggest that cultivar of tall fescue should be considered an important factor as well as fungus status when designing tall fescue grazing trials.

Technical Abstract: Although much work has focused on the performance of endophyte-infected (E+), Acremonium coenophialum Morgan-Jones and Gams, tall fescue, Festuca arundinacea Schreb, little information is available comparing performance attributes of endophyte-free (E-) cultivars (CV) in the Northeast. This study compared the performance of E- tall fescue CV under a rotational grazing system. Five replicates of four CV (Festorina, Johnstone, Roa, an KY 31) of E- tall fescue were grazed rotationally for 2 yr. Fescue and weed dry matter (DM) yield, leaf-to-stem ratio, and tiller density were determined both pre- and post-grazing. Sward height was measured prior to grazing. Forage crude protein (CP), acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), and in vitro dry matter disappearance (IVDMD) were determined by near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS). Total DM mass was higher for Festorina and KY 31 than for the other CV. Leaf-to-stem ratios did not differ among CV. Forage height was greatest for Festorina and least for Johnstone. Fescue proportion of herbage biomass was greater and weed yield lower for Festorina and KY 31 than for Roa and Johnstone. Fescue proportion of herbage biomass at the end of the trial was lowest for Johnstone. Mean tiller densities ranged from 2055 m-2 in spring to 1264 m-2 under stockpiling in fall, but did not differ among CV. Pregrazed herbage CP averaged 204 mg kg-1 and did not differ among CV. Roa tended to be low and Festorina high in fiber content, and Johnstone was higher than Festorina in IVDMD. Differences existed in the performance of CV of E- tall fescue. In light of this information, CV, as well as endophyte status, should be considered in designing experimental grazing trials with tall fescue

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page