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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Bowling Green, Kentucky » Food Animal Environmental Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #367371

Research Project: Developing Safe, Efficient and Environmentally Sound Management Practices for the Use of Animal Manure

Location: Food Animal Environmental Systems Research

Title: Grain yield and beef cow–calf growth performance in dual-Purpose and conventional grain wheat production systems and stockpiled tall fescue pasturing

item NETTHISINGHE, ANNESLY - Western Kentucky University
item GALLOWAY, HUNTER - Western Kentucky University
item DEGRAVES, FRED - Western Kentucky University
item Agga, Getahun
item Sistani, Karamat

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/5/2020
Publication Date: 10/10/2020
Publication URL:
Citation: Netthisinghe, A., Galloway, H., DeGraves, F., Agga, G.E., Sistani, K.R. 2020. Grain yield and beef cow–calf growth performance in dual-Purpose and conventional grain wheat production systems and stockpiled tall fescue pasturing. Agronomy Journal. 10(10). Article 1543.

Interpretive Summary: Wheat is mainly used for grain production in the United States. It can also be used as a forage for animal feeding. Combining these two together can have economic benefits for farmers who produce both wheat and animals. To evaluate the impact of dual use of wheat on grain yield and animal performance, three plots consisting of wheat for grain only, wheat for grazing and grain, tall fescue grass fields were established. Sixteen cow-calf pairs each were allowed to graze on either wheat or tall fescue for 2-3 weeks in 2017 and 2018. Wheat grain yield was not affected by initial grazing by cattle. Wheat forage had higher dry matter and crude protein contents compared to tall fescue grass. Cows and calves that grazed on wheat gained more body weights than those grazed on tall fescue. The study demonstrated that dual use of wheat crop is a feasible economic advantage for farmers without compromising grain production by increasing animal performance in cow-calf operations.

Technical Abstract: Dualpurpose wheat (Triticum aestivum L) can be used for cattle grazing while producing grain from the same crop. In a two-year study, wheat forage production, grain yield, and growth performance of beef cow–calf pairs grazed on wheat pasture for 2–3 weeks in spring was compared with the conventional wheat grain production system and stockpiled tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea (L.) Schreb) pasturing. Grazing wheat resulted in grain yield (4.1 vs. 4.6 t ha -1) and test weight(65.9 vs. 66.7 kg hL -1) similar to the conventional grain production system. Wheat accumulated significantly lower forage dry matter yield (0.9 vs. 1.9 t ha -1) in spring with higher crude protein(190.2–290.2 vs. 122.0–151.0 g kg -1) and low fiber contents compared to the stockpiled tall fescuepasture. Wheat pasture presented risk for the development of grass tetany with regard to N, K, Na, and Mg contents. Calves grazed on wheat gained 1143–1370 gd -1 body weight compared to the 826–879 gd -1 in the stockpiled tall fescue pasturing. Cows had inconsistent and mixed body weight change response. With warmer temperatures and adequate precipitation-controlled grazing of wheat in spring by beef cow–calves offered weight gain benefits exceeding the stockpiled tall fescue pasturing and grain production similar to the conventional wheat grain system.