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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 #326011

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

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Wisconsin sorghum growth evaluation

item Remick, E. - University Of Wisconsin
item Akins, M. - University Of Wisconsin
item Su, H. - University Of Wisconsin
item Coblentz, Wayne

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2016
Publication Date: 3/15/2016
Citation: Remick, E., Akins, M., Su, H., Coblentz, W.K. 2016. Wisconsin sorghum growth evaluation. Popular Publication. March 2016.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Growing moderate-quality forages that meet the nutrient requirements of dairy heifers is not a common practice in Wisconsin; however, this forage management option would have a positive impact on the dairy industry. Heifers gain excessive bodyweight when they consume diets high in energy; this is especially true post-puberty, and may negatively impact first lactation production. Replacement dairy heifers are typically fed forage diets comprised of corn, alfalfa, or grass silages. Corn silage is energy dense (70-75% TDN) and exceeds the requirements for 900 to 1200-lb heifers (62% TDN). Sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass have a moderate nutritive quality (higher fiber, lower starch); as such, they could be useful alternative forages that could be helpful in limiting excessive weight gains. The objective of this project was to evaluate the yield of photoperiod-sensitive forage sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass compared to the performance of non-photoperiod-sensitive sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass, or corn silage. Forages were planted on 2 dates (early or mid June) and harvested using single or multiple-cut strategies. Some sorghum varieties were able to produce yields similar to those observed for corn in central Wisconsin; however, the greatest yields were observed in a single-cut harvest system. These forages may be useful in providing significant quantities of moderate-quality forage for dairy heifers or other livestock with moderate nutritional requirements.