Cattle Grazing Corn Need Protein

Feeding ½ lb/day of supplemental protein to steers grazing mature, unharvested corn maximized weight gains in a University of Nebraska study.

The cattle grazed from Sept. 12 to Dec. 5. Every day, they received a fresh strip of corn plus 2.5 lbs/head of a supplement containing Rumensin, vitamins, minerals, corn grain and from 0.16 to 1.34 lbs of crude protein as soybean meal and urea.

Average gains always exceeded 2 lbs/day, peaking at 2.88 lbs. Overall, average daily gain increased as supplemental protein increased to 0.54 lb/day, but changed little thereafter.

The researchers point out that grazing standing corn eliminates harvesting and storage costs, as well as feedlot yardage expenses, manure hauling, etc. In this study, though, the efficiency of converting corn grain into live gains was low due to grain passing undigested through steers and to uneaten kernels remaining on the soil surface.

'Hopper-Resistant Alfalfa Is Nutritious

Alfalfa varieties with resistance to potato leafhoppers are equal to or slightly higher in forage quality than standard varieties, say scientists.

Glandular-haired and conventional varieties were compared, with and without insecticide treatment, by researchers in Ohio, Indiana, Alabama, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In all cuttings, resistant varieties were higher in crude protein, in vitro digestible dry matter (IVDDM) and relative feed value (RFV), except when standard varieties were badly stunted by leafhoppers. The stunted alfalfa was lower in fiber and higher in IVDDM and RFV than the resistant alfalfa.

Manage Ryegrass For Productivity

Careful grazing management may improve productivity and winter survival of annual ryegrass.

So say University of Missouri scientists, who seeded 25 lbs/acre of Marshall ryegrass on Sept. 1. When the grass reached 8-10" tall, plots were harvested to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6" of stubble height with a flail-type forage harvester.

Weather during the trial was colder than normal, and plots were covered with snow and ice for four to six weeks in December and January. Ryegrass cut to a 1" stubble height in November didn't survive the winter and wasn't cut again. Cutting to residual heights of 2 and 3" delayed the first spring harvest by four and two weeks, respectively.

Plots cut 3, 4 or 5" high produced 10-15% more forage than those cut to 2 or 6" high, and 55% more than those cut to 1".

The researchers emphasize that the results are from one year at one location, and thus are preliminary.

Tannins Improve Alfalfa

Alfalfa with moderate levels of tannins would improve dairy farm profitability, say USDA scientists.

Tannins slow protein loss during forage fermentation and digestion, and also slow the release of nitrogen from manure and crop residues.

Using computer simulation, scientists studied the impact of alfalfa containing 2% tannin on a 100-cow Wisconsin dairy farm. They found that nitrogen losses would be reduced by up to 7,500 lbs/year, and protein supplement purchases would drop by 57 tons/year. Annual profit would be $12,000 higher.

Efforts are under way to breed alfalfas with higher tannin levels.