Soft leaves and lack of fungal endophyte didn’t improve cattle’s taste for tall fescue in a study by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

Tall fescue, meadow brome and orchardgrass were drilled into plots at Logan, UT, and Ardmore, OK. Those grasses plus meadow fescue were also established at Lexington, KY. The tall fescues included standard, soft-leaf, endophyte-free and novel-endophyte varieties.

Cattle grazed each plot for 24 hours at a stocking rate designed to remove 50% of the forage biomass in that amount of time. Grazing took place over a three-year period with up to four grazing events per year, depending on location.

In general, there was little difference in preference among the tall fescue entries, and the other grasses were always consumed at higher levels, the researchers report.

“Tall fescue breeding programs should focus primarily on forage yield and nutritional quality,” they wrote.