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ARS Home » Plains Area » Miles City, Montana » Livestock and Range Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #340221

Research Project: Alleviating Rate Limiting Factors that Compromise Beef Production Efficiency

Location: Livestock and Range Research Laboratory

Title: Forage intake and wastage by ewes in pea/hay barley swath grazing and bale feeding systems

Author
item Nix, Erin - Montana State University
item Ragen, Devon - Montana State University
item Bowman, Janice - Montana State University
item Kott, Rodney - Montana State University
item Petersen, Mark
item Lenssen, Andrew - Iowa State University
item Hatfield, Patrick - Montana State University
item Glunk, Emily - Montana State University

Submitted to: American Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/6/2016
Publication Date: 4/21/2016
Citation: Nix, E.E., Ragen, D.L., Bowman, J.G., Kott, R.W., Petersen, M.K., Lenssen, A.W., Hatfield, P.G., Glunk, E.C. 2016. Forage intake and wastage by ewes in pea/hay barley swath grazing and bale feeding systems. American Journal of Experimental Agriculture. 12(3):1-6. doi:10.9734/AJEA/2016/25197.

Interpretive Summary: Harvested feed costs, particularly during the winter, are usually the highest cost period in a cattle or sheep operation. Swath grazing has been practiced for over 100 years with cattle but little is known about the effectiveness of swath grazing by sheep. Sixty mature, white-faced ewes were used in 2 years to evaluate if feeding method (swath grazed or fed as baled hay in confinement) of intercropped field pea (Pisum sativum L.) and spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) forage affected ewe ADG (average daily gain), forage DMI (dry matter intake), and feed wastage. The study was conducted at Montana State University Ft. Ellis Research Station in Bozeman, MT during the summers of 2010 and 2011. Each year, 30 ewes were allocated to 3 confinement pens and 30 ewes were allocated to 3 grazing paddocks. Ewes had unlimited access to forage and water. Individual ewe forage DMI was estimated using a marker in the feed. Forage wastage was calculated. Forage intake, ewe daily weight gain, and forage wastage were similar for swathed versus baled pea/hay barley forage each year. These results suggest that a swathed feeding system is a viable alternative to a baled feeding system for pea/hay barley forage in commercial sheep operations.

Technical Abstract: Harvested feed costs, particularly during the winter, are traditionally the highest input associated with a ruminant livestock operation. Although swath grazing has been practiced for over 100 years and literature exists for cattle use of swath grazing, no published results are available on use of swath grazing by sheep. Sixty mature, white-faced ewes were used in a completely randomized design repeated 2 years to evaluate whether feeding method (swath grazed or fed as baled hay in confinement) of intercropped field pea (Pisum sativum L.) and spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) forage affected ewe ADG (average daily gain), forage DMI (dry matter intake), and wastage. The study was conducted at Ft. Ellis Research Station in Bozeman, MT during the summers of 2010 and 2011. Each year, 30 ewes were allocated to 3 confinement pens (10 ewes/pen) and 30 ewes were allocated to 3 grazing plots (10 ewes/plot). Ewes had ad libitum access to forage and water. Individual ewe forage DMI was estimated using chromic oxide (Cr2O3) as a marker for estimating fecal output. Measures of fecal output were combined with measures of forage indigestibility to determine DMI for each ewe. Forage wastage was calculated by sampling and weighing initial available forage, and subtracting final available forage and DMI. Forage DMI (P = 0.13), ewe ADG (P = 0.40), and forage percent wastage (P > 0.28) did not differ for swathed versus baled pea/hay barley forage during either year. These results suggest that a swathed feeding system can function as a viable alternative to a traditional baled feeding system for pea/hay barley forage in commercial sheep operations.