Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Samuel Ray Smith


Cool season perennial grasses are the foundation of equine nutrition in the transition zone. The objective of this study was to evaluate forage quality using ADF, NDF, IVTDMD, CP, WSC, and ESC and changes in vegetative swards seasonally, diurnally, across species (Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, orchardgrass, and perennial ryegrass) and cultivar. This study was conducted in 2015 and 2017 and plots were maintained vegetatively with two to four week mowing. Morning and afternoon sample collection occurred monthly during the growing season. Samples were flash frozen; freeze dried, ground, and scanned using Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) to predict forage quality. There was a significant year effect; therefore year was analyzed separately. Generally, ADF and NDF were highest for Kentucky bluegrass (30 and 52%), lowest for perennial ryegrass (25 and 46%), and tall fescue and orchardgrass were inconsistent. Crude protein was variable across species and season, ranging 10 to 25%. ADF and NDF concentrations were higher in the morning; IVTDMD, WSC, and ESC were higher in the afternoon; and CP was similar diurnally. In conclusion, forage quality in vegetative cool season grass pastures was sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of most equines, but varied seasonally, diurnally, across species, and cultivar.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)