Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Glen E. Aiken

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Barrett

Abstract

Treatment of endophyte-infected tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh] with the broad leaf herbicide Chaparral® can mitigate fescue toxicosis and enhance forage quality by suppressing seedhead emergence. Applying the herbicide to fescue pastures also reduces forage mass and promotes severe spot grazing when pastures are continuously grazed. A grazing experiment was conducted with steers (2013) and heifers (2014) to evaluate animal and plant responses in fescue-bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) mixtures treated with Chaparral to determine the effects of grazing management on pasture carrying capacity, nutritive values, botanical composition, and animal performance. Continuous and rotational (i.e., four subdivisions to provide a 7-d grazing period and a 21-d rest period) grazing treatments were assigned to six, 3.0-ha fescue-bluegrass pastures in a randomized complete block design with three replications. Each pasture had six tester animals, and stocking rates were varied using put-and-take animals. Pastures were grazed from 16 April to 8 July 2013 (Year 1) and 20 May to 12 Aug (Year 2) and cattle were blocked by body weight for allotment to pastures. Pasture carrying capacities were greater (P = 0.07) for rotational compared to continuous pastures across both years. Calves on rotationally grazed pastures had greater average daily gain (P = 0.03) and gain per acre (P = 0.05) than those on the continuous treatment across both years. Canopies of continuously grazed pastures contained less (P = 0.01) tall fescue than those in rotationally grazed pastures. Herbage in pre-grazed paddocks had less NDF and ADF than post-grazed paddocks and continuously grazed pastures in 2013 (P < 0.10), but did not differ in 2014 (P > 0.10). In vitro digestible dry matter was greater (P = 0.07) in pre-graze rotational pastures in 2013 compared with continuous and post-graze rotational, and IVDDM did not differ (P < 0.01) between pre-graze rotational and continuous in 2014, but was greater than post-graze rotational. Crude protein was lower (P = 0.06) in both years in post-graze rotational pasture than in continuous or pre-graze rotational pasture, which did not differ. In 2013, there was no difference (P = 0.60) in root WSC among treatments; however, in 2014, WSC levels were greater (P = 0.01) in rotationally grazed pastures compared with continuously grazed pastures. This grazing experiment indicated that rotational grazing of Chaparral treated fescue-bluegrass mixtures can improve both animal performance and the sustainability of pasture productivity.

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