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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #238269

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

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 [serial online]. doi:10.1094/FG-2009-0312-01-RS.

Interpretive Summary: Stockpiling is a management practice in which forage is allowed to accumulate throughout late summer and (or) fall for grazing during late fall and winter. This practice allows grazing to be extended into winter months, thereby decreasing winter feed costs. Tall fescue is the most widely used forage for stockpiling in the southeastern USA, because of its high concentrations of constructural carbohydrates, low concentrations of fiber, high digestibility, and its ability to produce more autumn growth than other cool-season forages. Pregnant beef cows offered stockpiled tall fescue-alfalfa (Medicago sativa) pastures consumed less hay and gained more body weight (BW) than cows offered other forages. Stockpiling tall fescue is a viable management practice that can be used for wintering cattle; however, little information is available that describes the proportion of the total pasture acreage that should be stockpiled, or the suitability of stockpiled tall fescue for fall-calving beef cows. Our objective was to investigate how autumn-stockpiling different proportions of the total tall fescue grazing area affects forage nutritive value, ergot alkaloid concentrations, and the overall performance of fall-calving beef cows.

Technical Abstract: Tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S.J. Darbyshire.] is often stockpiled to reduce winter feed costs for cattle. Over two consecutive years, a total of 158 Gelbvieh × Angus fall-calving cows (1318 plus/minus 13.2 lb) were allocated randomly to one of eight 24-acre tall fescue pastures on 18 August 2004 and 17 August 2005. Treatments consisted of no area stockpiled (0-SP), or 33 (33-SP), or 50 percent of the total pasture area stockpiled (50-SP); stockpiling was initiated on 10 September of both years. Total hay offered tended (P equal to 0.07) to be greater for 0-SP than 33- SP and 50-SP. Calf weights at the end of the breeding season were greater (P less than 0.05) from 33-SP than 50-SP. Therefore, 33 percent of tall fescue pasture area can be stockpiled to help meet the nutritional needs of fall-calving cows and reduce winter hay needs.