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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Preferences and Behavior of Cattle Grazing 8 Varieties of Grasses

Authors
item Ganskopp, David
item Meyers, Bill - NRCS RETIRED
item Lambert, Scott - NRCS

Submitted to: Journal of Range Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 8, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Cattle rapidly develop preferences for different kinds of grasses and will forage on some and avoid others. Over time the favorites may be overgrazed and avoided types will not be used at all. Land and pasture managers need to know how acceptable different forages are to livestock before money is spent to establish or restore pastures. We determined what the preferences of steers were for 8 varieties of grasses when they were green and after they were brown and dormant. Varieties of grasses were: Nordan, Hycrest II, Magnar, Trailhead, Goldar, Bozoisky, Secar, and Bannock. When forages were green Nordan and Hycrest II were favored and Magnar, Trailhead and Bozoisky were avoided. After grasses were dormant and brown Hycrest II, Nordan, Goldar, Bannock, and Bozoisky were equally acceptable. Magnar and Trailhead were avoided. Because of their ease of establishment, grazing tolerance, and high palatability Hycrest II and Nordan are both excellent choices for pasture restoration or establishment in beef production programs. Less acceptable grasses may be used if ground cover is needed. This information will assist ranchers or land managers in selecting grasses for cattle forage or establishment of perennial ground cover.

Technical Abstract: We compared preferences of steers for 8 wheatgrass and wildrye varieties at 2 stages of growth. They included 2 crested wheatgrasses (Nordan and Hycrest II), 2 basin wildryes (Magnar and Trailhead), 1 cultivar (Goldar) of bluebunch wheatgrass, 1 cultivar (Bozoisky) of Russian wildrye, and 2 cultivars of thickspike wheatgrass,Secar Snake River wheatgrass and Bannock wheatgrass. During early growth steers were very selective and harvested 53% of total bites from Hycrest II and Nordan entries. Magnar, Trailhead, and Bozoisky were avoided. When grasses were dormant steers were less selective and Hycrest II, Nordan, Goldar, Bannock, and Bozoisky were equally acceptable. Magnar and Trailhead were again avoided. Steers regrazed preferred forages before any of grasses were depleted. With the exception of phosphorus, nutritive content of grasses was satisfactory for lactating beef cattle at both stages of growth. Given the ease of establishment, competitive ability, nutritional value, grazing tolerance, and high palatability of Hycrest II and Nordan, both are considered excellent candidates for pasture reclamation or establishment in beef production programs.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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