The University of Arizona

Quality and persistence of forages in the Northern Great Plains.

M.R. Haferkamp, E.E. Grings, R.K. Heitschmidt, M.D. MacNeil


Integrating use of seedings of perennial cool-season grasses with native range is used to increase available forage and for maintaining a high plane of nutrition for grazing livestock. Our goal was to evaluate performance of yearling cattle and stand persistence of 3 released wheatgrass cultivars. Twice replicated 3-ha pastures were seeded to 'Rosana' western wheatgrass [Pascopyron smithii (Rydb.) A. Love], 'Luna' pubescent wheat-grass [Elytrigia intermedia (Host) Nevski], and 'Hycrest' crested wheatgrass ([Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.] ssp. desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) A. Love) in autumn 1994. Yearling steers (n = 8) grazed from 9 May to 12 June 1997 and 24 April to 15 June 1998. Yearling heifers grazed from 27 April to 18 June 1999. Hycrest produced the largest herbage standing crop in spring 1997 (912 kg ha(-1)) and 1998 (1,223 kg ha(-1)) (P < 0.05), but by spring 1999 standing crops averaged 656 kg ha(-1), and cultivars were not significantly different. Digestible organic matter standing crop did not differ among pastures of seeded species, but declined (P < 0.05) from May to June each year. Crude protein standing crop varied among cultivars (P < 0.05) in April and May 1998 and May 1999; however, no clear trends emerged. Crude protein standing crops consistently declined from April-May to June. Average daily gains were similar among cultivars in 1997, but greater (P < 0.05) on Hycrest (1.28 kg day(-1)) than Rosana (1.03 kg day(-1)) in 1998. Gains on Hycrest (0.74 kg day(-1)) and Rosana (0.78 kg day(-1)) were greater (P < 0.05) than on Luna (0.52 kg day(-1)) in 1999. These findings show in some years, Hycrest provided more forage in spring than Rosana, and will allow an increase in livestock numbers. Based on the encroachment of invading species, persistence of Luna is marginal of the 335-mm precipitation zone in the Northern Great Plains.



Elytrigia intermedia subsp. intermedia;protein content;liveweight gain;Agropyron cristatum;cultivars;seedlings;crude protein;Pascopyrum smithii;precipitation;in vitro digestibility;biomass;seasonal variation;Montana;plant competition;grazing;beef cattle

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