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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #75970


item Goetsch, Arthur

Submitted to: Professional Animal Scientist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: For many years broiler litter has been used in areas of abundance as an inexpensive feedstuff for cattle. However, supportive research of general feeding guidelines or rules of thumb for use of litter at relatively high dietary proportions is not extensive. In this experiment, litter consumed free-choice in a mixture with 10% sorghum grain (as fed basis) with a relatively low quantity of bermudagrass hay (0.2% of body weight; dry matter) yielded lower body weight gain during the time of feed consumption (9 weeks in late-gestation) than with either a higher quantity of hay (0.6% of body weight; dry matter) or a higher percentage of sorghum grain in the mixture (30%). However, even though body weight gain during the feeding period was less for the high feeding level of litter compared with lower levels, perhaps because of adequate digestible nutrient intake in the last 43 days of gestation and first 62 days of lactation, no marked deleterious effects on calf birth weight or body weight gain or in subsequent cow body weight occurred. With litter at 60 to 70% of total dry matter intake, different proportions of the remaining portion of the diet comprised of both roughage and cereal grain may have little or no impact on cow or calf performance. These results are important to cattle producers in the Midsouth US because of the low cost and abundance of broiler litter, relatively high cost of other feedstuffs, and lack of verified feeding recommendations for broiler litter. This research will contribute to successful and efficient use of broiler litter in late- gestation beef cow diets as a forage substitute to potentially minimize feed costs, conserve limited supplies of other feed resources and/or increase the number of cattle fed.

Technical Abstract: Brangus-sired beef cows (100; 511+/- 4.4 kg initial BW) were used to determine performance effects of different dietary levels of deep-stacked broiler litter, ground sorghum grain, and bermudagrass hay given in late gestation (63 d; 179 to 242 d of gestation). Treatments were hay consumed ad libitum (Control); 0.2% BW grain, 0.1% BW soybean meal (DM), and ad libitum consumption of hay (S); 0.2% BW hay (DM) and ad libitum consumption of a 90% litter (harvested after two 6-wk broiler growing periods, 30% ash, 21% CP, and 46% NDF), 10% grain mixture (as fed; H); 0.2% BW hay (DM) and ad libitum consumption of a 70% litter, 30% grain mixture (as fed; M-S); and 0.6% BW hay (DM) and ad libitum consumption of an 87% litter, 13% grain mixture (as fed; M-B). Total DM intake was less (P<0.05) for H than for M-S and M-B (14.8, 15.9, 12.9, 18.1, and 17.2 kg/d for Control, S, H, M-S, and M-B, respectively). Likewise, cow BW change during the feeding period was less (P<0.05) for H vs M-S and M-B (1.25, 1.34, 0.65, 1.17, and 1.23 kg/d), although BW loss after feeding (43 d before and 62 d after calving) was less (P=0.06) for H than for M-S and M-B respectively). Calf birth weight and BW gain in the 62 d after calving were similar (P<0.10) among treatments. In conclusion, with some sources of broiler litter, low dietary levels of other feedstuffs can negatively affect cow BW change in late gestation via limited feed intake, although effects may be compensated for thereafter. A moderate level of roughage (e.g., 0.6% BW; DM) in litter-based diets can support performance comparable to that with a moderate cereal grain level.