The University of Arizona

Forb and shrub influences on steer nitrogen retention.

D. Arthun, J.L. Holechek, J.D. Wallace, M.L. Galyean, M. Cardenas, S. Rafique


Two experiments with steers were conducted to evaluate the influence of native forbs and shrubs on nitrogen utilization by cattle. Diets in Exp. 1 were blue grams (Bouteloua gracilis [H.B.K.])(BG), BG plus 23% alfalfa (Medicago sativa) hay (ALF), BG plus 42% forbs and BG plus 41% shrubs. Diets in Exp. 2 included barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) straw, and straw plus either 42% ALF, 63% forbs, or 62% shrubs. Forbs used in our study were scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea Nutt.) and leatherleaf croton (Croton pottsii Lam.). Shrubs included fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens [Pursh.]) and mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus Raf.) Forb and shrub mixtures were 50:50 of each species. Blue grams and straw basal diets contained 7.6 and 3.5% CP, respectively. Diets containing ALF, forbs, and shrubs were isonitrogenous (10.5% CP) in both experiments. In Exp. 1, no differences (P>.10) were observed among treatments for N retention (g/d). In Exp. 2, N retention was least (P<.05) for the straw diet, greatest for the ALF and shrub diets (P>.05), and intermediate for the forb diet. Inclusion of forbs or shrubs with low-quality forage diets was, in most instances, comparable to inclusion of ALF. Our results indicate that maintaining palatable forbs and shrubs on rangelands should reduce the need to supply cattle with protein during periods when grasses are dormant.


barley straw;croton pottsii;nitrogen retention;Hordeum vulgare;Sphaeralcea coccinea;nitrogen metabolism;Medicago sativa;alfalfa;alfalfa hay;Atriplex canescens;Croton;hay;steers;cattle feeding;Bouteloua gracilis;shrubs;rangelands;nutritive value;quality;Cercocarpus montanus;New Mexico;beef cattle;forage

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