Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/28/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Endophyte-infected tall fescue is widely adapted and persists under abusive management, but poor performance of cattle suffering from fescue toxicosis has prevented it from being extensively grown by stocker producers. An option for enhancing weight gain of stocker cattle on tall fescue is to feed grain or hay to dilute the concentration of the toxins in the diet. Broiler litter and corn in mixture is a low cost feedstuff that has potential to economically improve stocker weight gains on tall fescue. This research determined the cost effectiveness of feeding broiler litter-corn (1:1; as fed) free-choice to stocker steers on infected and non-infected tall fescue. The study was conducted from early April to late June in 1995 (84 days) and from early May to late June in 1996 (56 days). Feeding the litter-corn mixture for infected tall fescue increased daily weight gains by 79% and liveweight gain per acre by 69%. Steers fed the mixture on non-infected tall fescue showed only marginal, insignificant increases in performance. Feed cost per incremental increase in daily weight gain was low for infected tall fescue over a range of corn costs, particularly if corn costs are less than $150/ton. Break-even points for corn costs above $150/ton, however, would likely be too high to make the practice feasible during low to moderate cattle markets. Therefore, feeding a litter-corn mixture free-choice on infected fescue pasture can be cost effective for stocker production if cattle markets are high enough to offset corn costs.
Technical Abstract: Poor weight gain of cattle grazing endophyte-infected tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) has reduced the value of tall fescue as a pasture grass for stocker production. A grazing experiment was conducted to determine the cost effectiveness of feeding broiler litter and corn to enhance steer performance on infected and non-infected tall fescue. Treatments of either free-choice feeding of broiler litter-corn (1:1; as fed) or pasture only were imposed on steers grazing infected and non-infected stands of Kentucky-31' tall fescue. Feeding litter-corn increased (P<0.05) average daily gain and gain per acre for infected but not (P>0.1) for non-infected fescue. Feed cost per incremental increase in weight gain on infected tall fescue was less than $.50/lb if the cost of corn was equal to or less than $150/ton. Feeding a litter-corn mixture free-choice to steers on infected fescue pasture can be cost effective if cattle markets are high enough to offset corn costs.