Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Agriculture

Department

Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Dr. Glen E. Aiken

Second Advisor

Dr. William W. Witt

Abstract

Tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum) is the principal cool-season species within pastures of the southeastern USA and is known to have a mutualistic relationship with a fungal endophyte (Neotyphodium coenophialum) that produces the ergot alkaloids responsible for tall fescue toxicosis. Management of the reproductive growth of tall fescue is necessary, as the seedheads contain the highest concentrations of ergot alkaloids, and livestock have been documented to selectively graze these tissues. Recently, the herbicide Chaparral has been shown to be an effective method to prevent seedhead production in tall fescue pastures while also increasing steer gains at a low stocking rate. The objective of this study was to compare the impact of Chaparral on steer and pasture production under multiple grazing intensities (GI). Chaparral (0 and 140 g ha-1) and two levels of GI (low: 3300±250 kg ha-1 & moderate: 2500±250 kg ha-1) treatments were arranged in a factorial combination as RCBD with three replications. Tall fescue seedhead densities were decreased (P < 0.05) within the Chaparral-treated pastures, but efficiency of the inhibition varied slightly between growing seasons. Chaparral-treated pastures had lower (P < 0.05) forage availabilities and contained forage with higher (P < 0.05) concentrations of crude protein (CP) and in vitro digestible dry matter (IVDDM) during both growing season. Steers within the Chaparral-treated pastures and low GI treatment had higher average daily gains (ADG). Carrying capacities (CC) were lowest and highest within the Chaparral-low GI and control-moderate GI treatments, respectively. Estimates of CC were not different (P > 0.15) between the Chaparral-moderate GI and control-low GI treatments. The higher ADG compensated for the lower CC of the Chaparral and low GI treatments and resulted in no difference (P > 0.60) in total gain per hectare (GPH) between grazing intensities and herbicide treatments in 2011. In 2012, the GPH were higher within the control and moderate GI treatments due to a lessening in the magnitude of difference between the herbicide and GI treatments. The effects of these treatments for alleviating symptoms of tall fescue toxicosis were inconclusive due to the low levels of ergot alkaloids production.

Share

COinS