Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #287970

Title: Forage yield and quality differences among cool-season grasses

item Brink, Geoffrey
item Casler, Michael

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2012
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Rotationally-stocked, perennial cool-season grasses are often utilized at a vegetative stage of maturity. We compared the yield and forage quality of leaves, stems, and total forage of meadow fescue, orchardgrass, quackgrass, reed canarygrass, smooth bromegrass, EF (endophyte-free) and EI (endophyte-infected) tall fescue, and timothy in the spring, summer, and fall in Wisconsin. Total forage production of all grasses was greatest during the spring, as expected. Leaf yield differences in spring, however, were relatively small (mean of 1090 lb/acre), except for smooth bromegrass (1430 lb/acre). Tall fescue (EF and EI) produced the greatest leaf yield during the summer (mean of 1420 lb/acre) and fall (mean of 920 lb/acre), and quackgrass, smooth bromegrass, and timothy (mean of 640 lb/acre) the least. Significant leaf crude protein (CP) differences occurred during the spring, summer, and fall, but leaf CP of all grasses exceeded 16% and would likely have little effect on animal performance. Lowest neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and greatest NDF digestibility were measured in the leaves and stems of meadow fescue and timothy. A producer’s perception of the value of a grass may be biased by annual yield estimates because spring yield constitutes a large proportion of annual yield and stems constitute a significant portion of the total yield. The greater nutritive value of grasses like meadow fescue must be balanced against slightly lower productivity.