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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #325050

Research Project: Improvement of Dairy Forage and Manure Management to Reduce Environmental Risk

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Sorghum as a forage in Wisconsin

Author
item Remick, Elizabeth - University Of Wisconsin
item Akins, Matthew - University Of Wisconsin
item Su, Huawei - University Of Wisconsin
item Coblentz, Wayne

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/13/2016
Publication Date: 1/13/2016
Citation: Remick, E., Akins, M.S., Su, H., Coblentz, W.K. 2016. Sorghum as a forage in Wisconsin. Meeting Proceedings. January 13, 2016.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Growing moderate quality forages that meet, but do not exceed, requirements of dairy replacement heifers is not a common practice in Wisconsin; however, this forage management option would have a positive impact on the dairy industry. It is typical for heifers to gain excessive bodyweight when they are offered diets too high in energy, which may negatively impact first lactation milk production. Sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass have a lower nutritive quality than corn silage (greater fiber, less starch), and would be a promising alternative to reduce excess heifer weight gains. The objective of this study was to evaluate the yield of photo-sensitive forage sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass compared to non-photo sensitive sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass, and corn silage. Our results indicate that some sorghum varieties are able to produce forage yields that are similar to those for corn in central Wisconsin. These high-yielding varieties may provide a significant quantity of moderate quality forage for dairy heifers or other livestock with lower nutritive needs, such as pregnant beef cows. For high tonnage, it is recommended to use a single cut system. Moisture concentrations of sorghums can pose challenging problems because sorghums often are frost-killed before drying down to an adequate moisture for ensiling. Harvest should be delayed 1 to 2 weeks after a killing frost to dissipate prussic acid and allow for adequate desiccation. Photoperiod-sensitive varieties did not lodge after a killing frost in this study, which may allow for additional drying time. More evaluation is needed to assess the best management strategies for optimum use of forage sorghums in central Wisconsin.