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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 #366643

Research Project: Improving Nutrient Use Efficiency and Mitigating Nutrient and Pathogen Losses from Dairy Production Systems

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Evaluation of row spacing on sorghum dry-down, harvest timing, and effects of feeding sorghum forage to dairy heifers

item AKINS, MATTHEW - University Of Wisconsin
item LI, LINGYAN - University Of Wisconsin
item Coblentz, Wayne

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/22/2019
Publication Date: 8/5/2019
Citation: Akins, M.S., Li, L., Coblentz, W.K. 2019. Evaluation of row spacing on sorghum dry-down, harvest timing, and effects of feeding sorghum forage to dairy heifers. Popular Publication. August 2019, page 8.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Dairy heifers require moderate quality forages to maintain acceptable weight gains (1.8 to 2.2 lbs/day). Older (pregnant) heifers are more susceptible to excessive weight gains than younger heifers, particularly when corn silage comprises a significant portion of the overall diet. Highly fibrous forages, such as straw, corn stover, or perennial warm-season grasses have been used to reduce caloric density of the diet, increase concentrations of structural plant fiber in the diet, and reduce voluntary intake, primarily via the gut fill mechanism. One problem with using forage sorghums for this purpose is the difficulty in attaining DM concentrations (> 30%) necessary for good ensiling conditions. Towards this end, non-photosensitive sorghum cultivars do not benefit from increasing row spacing beyond 15 inches, but this practice is helpful for drying down forage plants for photosensitive cultivars. In an associated feeding trial, including forage sorghum in the diet increased dietary concentrations of structural plant fiber, increased gut fill, and reduced voluntary intake by heifers, resulting in another potential option for reducing energy consumption by pregnant dairy heifers for dairy producers.