235-4 Unconventional Forages for Livestock.

See more from this Division: C06 Forage and Grazinglands
See more from this Session: General Forage and Grazinglands: I
Tuesday, October 18, 2011: 1:45 PM
Hilton Palacio del Rio, El Mirador
Share |

Christine Falen, University of Idaho, Jerome, ID and Glenn Shewmaker, University of Idaho, Twin Falls, ID
Extending the grazing season in southern Idaho looks promising for: 1) spring grazing of winter cereals; 2) summer and/or fall grazing of pearl millet, teff, cereals, vetch or rapeseed combinations; and 3) fall/early winter grazing of turnips or rapeseed with stockpiled pasture/pearl millet/cereals. Utilizing cereals, annual forages, stockpiled tall fescue, perennial pasture, and Management-intensive Grazing (MiG) allowed a Lincoln County Idaho producer to nearly triple livestock and farm production on the same farm.

Winter cereals planted the previous fall and harvested in May had RFQ’s ranging from 157 to 199 and when compared to alfalfa cost and forage quality, winter cereals offered cheaper forage. The re-growth in early July ranged from 109-170 RFQ. In July, the 30-hour digestibility was better for Willow Creek winter wheat (WCWW) and barley than triticale.

Teff had RFQ’s ranging from 78 to 146, and provides a viable option for grazing during July/August when cool season grass has slowed due to hot weather. Pearl millet can be used for summer, fall or winter grazing, but RFQ declined from 175 to 91 in a month. Pearl millet had only 4.5% protein, and RFQ was 135-145 in October and decreased to an RFQ of 58-83 in December.

A combination of forages is a good option for maximizing forage production and quality. In a farm trial, the RFQ was 183 for pearl millet/turnips, and 155 RFQ for turnips/oats in August. Turnips planted in August, then strip grazed with stockpiled perennial pasture provided high quality forage well suited for late fall/early winter grazing. The feed quality of turnips alone can be too high for maintenance livestock diets. In September, from a research trial in Kimberly, turnip RFQ was 223. Forage nitrate turnip concentrations should be monitored with nitrogen fertilizer applications. Rapeseed resulted in an RFQ of 215. So turnips and rapeseed should be mixed with teff, pearl millet or cereals and the nitrate monitored.

Legumes (hairy and chickling vetch) resulted in good forage quality. In September, at Kimberly, hairy vetch RFQ ranged from 141-175 and chickling vetch had an RFQ of 128. Available crude protein was 19-20% for hairy vetch and 17% for chickling vetch. They both offer high quality forages than can be mixed with cereals, teff, or pearl millet to increase yields, while keeping the forage quality balanced to meet livestock maintenance and weight gain requirements.

Extended grazing with annual forages provides an opportunity to produce a larger quantity of high quality forage at a lower cost than purchasing alfalfa. Producers may increase farm/ranch profitability by selling hay, while meeting their livestock’s nutritional needs with extended grazing. To start using annual forages for summer and fall grazing, this spring consider planting spring cereals, or spring cereal/vetch. To start this summer, consider planting teff, pearl millet, vetch/teff or pearl millet, or a rapeseed/teff or pearl millet combination in June. Graze these during the summer, or stockpile in the field for fall/early winter grazing. In early fall, consider turnips or rapeseed/winter cereals for a late fall/early winter grazing, plus grazing the following spring, and potentially again on summer cereal re-growth.

See more from this Division: C06 Forage and Grazinglands
See more from this Session: General Forage and Grazinglands: I