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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Plant Science Research » Research » Research Project #440062

Research Project: Energy and Economic Value of Alfalfa, Harvested as Haylage, in Growing Cattle Diets

Location: Plant Science Research

Project Number: 5062-12210-004-047-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 1, 2021
End Date: May 31, 2023

1. Compare the feeding value of alfalfa harvested as haylage vs that of corn silage when fed at the same forage neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentration in diets of growing beef cattle. 2. Determine the value added to forage cropland, as economic return per acre, realized through feeding alfalfa as haylage in diets of growing beef and dairy-beef crossbred cattle.

For Objective 1, seven pen replicates for each of four dietary treatments containing the same amount of NDF will be used. Dietary treatments will consist of feeding a growing diet comprised, on a dry matter basis, of 68% corn silage, 15% corn grain, 12% dried distillers grains and 5% of a supplement to meet protein, vitamin and mineral requirements of growing steers (corn silage control, CS Control). Alfalfa haylage diets will be formulated to substitute corn silage NDF at 33%, 66% or 100%. One-hundred-sixty-eight crossbred steers (6 head/pen) weighing 500 lb will be allocated, within weight block, to one of 28 pens in a deep-bedded confinement barn. Pens will be randomly allocated to dietary treatments. Cattle will be weighed after withdrawing feed and water for 16 hours to determine initial and final BW. Otherwise, cattle will be weighed every 28 days in the morning before feeding. The experimental period will last from 56 to 70 days, until cattle weigh at least 750 lb. Feed ingredient samples will be collected weekly and analyzed for dry matter, crude protein, fiber fractions acid detergent fiber (ADF and NDF), ash, and ether extract. For Objective 2, The impact of crop production on performance and financial return to corn or alfalfa acres dedicated to cattle feeding will be evaluated using pen performance from cattle fed in Objective 1. Prices of cattle, grains, roughage and fertilizer will be obtained during implementation of Objective 1. Gross return per acre dedicated to raising crops to feed cattle will be determined by using cattle feedlot performance results and crop yield from Objective 1. Gross return per head fed will be determined as the value remaining after subtracting non-crop associated expenses (cattle purchase, veterinary medicine, yardage, bedding and other non-crop feed ingredients) from the value of gross cattle sales. Debits for crop residue removed for feed and credits resulting from manure fertilizer value applied to meet phosphorus need and adjusted for cost of removing and applying manure will be applied. Crop worth will be divided by tons of each used for feed to yield net worth of each crop procured from land owned by the feedlot or cattle feeder. Alternatively, crop worth will be divided by acres used to raise crops to determine gross return to crop acres. Subsequently, using each respective crop production costs, crop worth/acre will be subtracted from crop production costs/acre to generate net crop return to acres dedicated to cattle feeding. Resulting values for net crop worth per ton and net crop worth per acre for each pen will be analyzed.