Early-vegetative tall fescue hay vs alfalfa hay as a supplement for cattle consuming low-quality roughages.

TitleEarly-vegetative tall fescue hay vs alfalfa hay as a supplement for cattle consuming low-quality roughages.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsHorney, MR, Delcurto, T, Stamm, MM, Bailey, RK, Brandyberry, SD
JournalJ Anim Sci
Date Published1996 Aug
KeywordsAnimal Feed, Animals, Cattle, Data Collection, Digestion, Eating, Female, Food, Fortified, Male, Medicago sativa, Poaceae, Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, Random Allocation, Rumen

Two studies were conducted to evaluate high-quality tall fescue hay as a supplement to beef cattle fed low-quality roughages. In Exp. 1, 15 ruminally cannulated Hereford x Angus steers (average weight 390 kg) were blocked by weight and assigned randomly to one of three treatments: 1) tall fescue straw, no supplement; 2) tall fescue straw plus tall fescue hay supplement; 3) tall fescue straw plus alfalfa hay supplement. The 28-d digestion study consisted of 14 d of adaption, 6 d of intake data, and 6 d of collection of feces, respectively, with a 1-d ruminal sampling (d 27) and ruminal evacuations (d 28). In Exp. 2, 90 gestating Hereford x Angus cows were stratified by age and body condition and, within stratum, assigned randomly to three replications of the same treatments as described for Exp. 1. In both studies, a basal diet of tall fescue straw was fed with ad libitum access, alfalfa hay was fed at .4% BW, and tall fescue hay was fed at a level isonitrogenous with the alfalfa hay (.61% BW). In Exp. 1, DMI was at least 13% greater (P < .01) for supplemented steers than for nonsupplemented steers and was 12% greater (P < .10) for steers receiving supplemental tall fescue hay than for alfalfa hay-supplemented steers. Digestibility of DM was greater for supplemented steers than for nonsupplemented steers (P < .05) and, between supplement treatments, greater for tall fescue hay-supplemented steers than for alfalfa hay-supplemented steers (P < .10). Ruminal ammonia values peaked at 3 h after feeding and were higher for steers fed supplement treatments than for those fed the control treatment from just before feeding through 6 h after feeding (P < .10). In Exp. 2, supplemented cows gained more BW than nonsupplemented cows (P < .01), and the tall fescue hay-supplemented cows gained more BW (P < .10) than cows supplemented with alfalfa hay. Likewise, supplemented cows lost less condition (P < .01) than their nonsupplemented counterparts during the 84-d supplementation period, and cows receiving tall fescue hay supplement tended (P = .23) to lose less condition than cows receiving alfalfa hay supplement. No differences in calf growth were noted among treatment groups (P < .10). In conclusion, supplementation of high-quality tall fescue hay to cows fed low-quality forage diets seems to result in performance that is similar to or better than that of cows receiving alfalfa hay supplements when fed on an isonitrogenous basis.

Alternate JournalJ. Anim. Sci.
PubMed ID8856451