The University of Arizona

Grass hay as a supplement for grazing cattle. I. Animal performance.

G. Villalobos, D.C. Adams, T.J. Klopfenstein, J.T. Nichols, J.B. Lamb

Abstract


Regrowth grass hay produced on subirrigated meadows in the Nebraska Sandhills was evaluated as a supplement for gestating beef cows grazing winter range. Ninety-six crossbred spring calving, gestating beef cows were used in a winter supplementation study on upland Sandhills range from 5 November to 27 February in 1990 and again in 1991. Cows were divided into 4 treatments (24 cows/treatment): 1) control (range forage only, no supplement); 2) range forage and 2.2 kg cow-l day-1 of meadow regrowth hay (15.5% crude protein); 3) range forage and 1.2 kg cow-1 day-1 of a 30% wheat grain and 70% soybean meal:30% wheat supplement (36.0% crude protein); and 4) range forage with supplements in treatments 2 and 3 fed on alternate days. Meadow hay and soybean meal:wheat supplements provided 0.32 kg of crude protein/cow daily. Supplemented cows gained 3 to 53 kg body weight/year and maintained body condition, while control cows lost an average of 24.5 kg body weight/year and lost body condition. Intake of range forage was less (P < 0.05) by cows fed meadow hay and soybean meal:wheat supplements on alternate days than by cows on other treatments. Digestibility of range forage was lower (P < 0.05) for supplemented cows than control cows, but differences were small (avg. = 2%). Calving date, birth and weaning weights, and pregnancy rate were similar (P > 0.05) for all treatments. We concluded that subirrigated meadow regrowth grass hay was an effective alternative to traditional soybean meal-based supplements for maintaining body weight and body condition of gestating beef cows grazing winter range.

Keywords


pregnancy;body condition;liveweight gain;reproductive performance;chemical composition;Nebraska;beef cows;hay;dietary supplements;feed supplements;in vitro digestibility;grasses;feed intake

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