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Title: FORAGE NUTRITIVE VALUE AND PERFORMANCE OF LAMBS IN A SILVO-PASTORAL SYSTEM

Author
item Neel, James - Jim
item Feldhake, Charles
item Belesky, David

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2003
Publication Date: 4/27/2003
Citation: NEEL, J.P., FELDHAKE, C.M., BELESKY, D.P. FORAGE NUTRITIVE VALUE AND PERFORMANCE OF LAMBS IN A SILVO-PASTORAL SYSTEM. AMERICAN FORAGE AND GRASSLAND COUNCIL PROCEEDINGS. 2003. v. 12. p. 303-307.

Interpretive Summary: The Appalachian region contains numerous small farms made up of both open pasture and woodlots. A common problem is the loss of forage quality and quantity in summer period because high temperature and low rainfall restrict herbage production. Growing forages within woodlots offers promise of improved forage availability, higher forage quality and increased farm income because more land area is available for livestock production and conditions in the wooded site might favor forage growth. Past research indicates forage grown in wooded areas may be less palatable to animals and may contain chemical compounds, which could compromise animal growth and/or health. A multi-year experiment is underway to evaluate forage quality and animal performance within a hardwood silvo-pastoral system. Chemical components evaluated so far, indicate some forage grown under hardwoods is of higher quality than that grown in open pasture during much of the growing season. Animal performance did not differ between grazing systems. Our research indicates hardwood silvo-pastoral systems provide similar animal performance when compared to grazing on open pasture only, and may provide higher quality forage, especially if grazing is started within the wooded areas later in the growing season.

Technical Abstract: The Appalachian region contains numerous small farms comprised of open pasture and woodlots. A common problem in pasture throughout much of the region is the loss of forage quality and quantity during summer when high temperature and low rainfall restrict herbage production. Growing forages within woodlots offers promise of improved forage availability, higher forage quality and increased farm income. These benefits occur in part because of increased available land area and the possible beneficial conditions for forage growth within a wooded site. A multi-year experiment is underway to evaluate forage quality and animal performance within a silvo-pastoral system. Spring-born lambs were randomly assigned to one of three pasture treatments: 100% open pasture (OP), 67% OP and 33% hardwood forest pasture (HW), or 67% OP and 33% hardwood forest pasture initial grazing delayed (HWD), with grazing started 10 days after the HW treatment. During periods when all animals were grazing OP paddocks, forage crude protein (CP) and estimated digestible dry matter (DDM) did not differ between treatments. Forage CP was greater (P< 0.10) in the HW and HWD than OP at all sampling times except during mid-May, when OP and HW treatments were similar. Forage DDM was greater (P< 0.10) in HWD than the OP treatment during all sampling times throughout the grazing season. Forage DDM was greater (P< 0.10) in HW than in OP, only in mid-May. Cumulative animal average daily gain (ADG) did not differ (P> 0.1) between treatments with means of 0.21, 0.25 and 0.24 lb for the OP, HW and HWD treatments respectively. Our research, thus far, indicates hardwood silvo-pastoral systems provide similar animal performance when compared to open pasture and may provide higher quality forage, especially if grazing is delayed within the wooded areas.