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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #228718

Title: Performance by Fall-Calving Cows Grazing Tall Fescue Pastures with Different Proportions Stockpiled

item COFFEY, K
item Coblentz, Wayne
item Looper, Michael

Submitted to: Forage and Grazinglands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/19/2008
Publication Date: 3/12/2009
Citation: Caldwell, J.D., Coffey, K.P., Coblentz, W.K., Jennings, J.A., Hubbell III, D.S., Kreider, D.L., Looper, M.L., Rosenkrans, Jr, C.F. 2009. Performance by Fall-Calving Cows Grazing Tall Fescue Pastures with Different Proportions Stockpiled. Forage and Grazinglands. doi:10.1094/FG-2009-0312-01-RS. Available:

Interpretive Summary: Tall fescue is frequently stockpiled during autumn months for subsequent grazing during winter. This management approach is used commonly in beef cow-calf herds. However, there is relatively little information available that critically assesses the appropriate portion of pasture area that should be stockpiled for fall-calving cow-calf herds. Results of this study suggest that toxin levels associated with stockpiled tall fescue may still exceed threshold levels thought to cause fescue toxicosis. However, winter hay needs were reduced by 15 and 35% when 33 and 50% of the total pasture area, respectively, was stockpiled compared to pastures with no stockpiled forage. There were no differences in calf performance at the end of the trial. Therefore, stockpiling systems offer the potential to reduce winter hay needs (and their associated costs), while affecting cow and calf performance only minimally.

Technical Abstract: Tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh.] is often stockpiled to reduce winter feed costs for cattle. Over two consecutive years, a total of 158 Gelbvieh × Angus fall-calving cows (599 ± 6.0 kg) were allocated randomly to one of eight 10-ha tall fescue pastures (subdivided into six 1.6-ha paddocks) on August 18, 2004 and August 17, 2005. Treatments consisted of no area stockpiled (S0), or 33 (S33), or 50% of the total area stockpiled (S50). Stockpiling was initiated on September 10 of both years. Forage samples were gathered from both early-grazed and stockpiled areas (SP33 and SP50) of S33 and S50. Average forage mass across the study was lower (P < 0.05) from the mean of S33 and SP33 than from the mean of S50 and SP50 and from the grazed areas compared with the stockpiled areas. Total hay offered tended (P = 0.07) to be greater for S0 compared with the mean of S33 and S50. Calf weights at the end of the breeding season were greater (P < 0.05) from S33 than S50. Therefore, 33% of tall fescue pasture area can be stockpiled to help meet the nutritional needs of fall-calving cows.