Date Available


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. S. Ray Smith


There has been increased interest in utilizing switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) as biomass. There are several challenges to developing this industry, and these have led to the potential use of switchgrass as hay for feeding beef cattle in Kentucky. The effect of increasing maturity on crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and nutritive values of switchgrass hay has been well documented, but few in vivo intake and digestibility trials have been conducted to assess this effect on animal performance when feeding beef cattle. Two in vivo intake and digestibility trials were conducted in 2011 in which Angus x Hereford beef steers (200-265 kg) were fed Alamo and Cave-in-Rock switchgrass harvested as late vegetative, boot, and early flowering hay. The objectives of these trials was to evaluate the effect of increasing maturity on apparent dry matter intake (DMI), digestible dry matter intake (DDMI), and dry matter digestibility (DMD); and to discuss potential challenges that producers might face if incorporating switchgrass hay into their forage program for feeding beef cattle. Observed decreases in nutritive value, DMI, DDMI, and DMD indicate that producers should harvest Alamo and Cave-in-Rock switchgrass before it reaches the boot stage of maturity.