Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/6/2005
Publication Date: 11/6/2005
Citation: Waldron, B.L., Zobell, D.R., Olson, K.C., Jensen, K.B., Snyder, D.L. 2005. Using stockpiled forage kochia and crested wheatgrass to maintain beef cows during winter. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts.
Technical Abstract: Extending grazing into the fall and winter, as opposed to feeding of harvested forages, can increase the sustainability of cattle ranching in the western U.S. This study was conducted to determine the economic value of grazing stockpiled forage kochia and crested wheatgrass during the fall and winter. Changes in cow body wt, body condition score, and ultrasound backfat were compared for late-gestation cows grazing forage kochia-crested wheatgrass pastures versus those fed alfalfa hay in drylot. The grazing period was from early November to late January for two years near Promontory, Utah. Forage availabilty and nutritional quality was monitored throughout the experiment. Pasture-fed cows did not receive any protein or energy supplements. Economic analyses were conducted comparing the two feeding practices. Forage kochia comprised approximately 70% of available forage with November crude protein values of 116 and 76 g per kg, in year l and 2, respectively. Nutritional quality declined throughout the season, presumably mostly due to preferential grazing as opposed to weathering. Averaged over years, cows grazing forage kochia-grass maintained wt and backfat and increased in body condition (0.3 points with final score of 5.2), finishing well within the range considered optimum for onset of calving and return to estrus. Pasture versus drylot fed cows did not differ for changes in wt or body condition score. Both treatments increased backfat in year 1, when initial backfat was less than 0.5 cm, but both treatments resulted in loss of backfat in year 2 when initial backfat was greater than 1.0 cm. Grazing was more economical, costing $0.24 per cow per day less than feeding alfalfa hay in drylot. Forage kochia can be used on western rangelands to extend grazing into the fall and winter thereby improving the profitability of beef production.