Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Effects of strip versus continuous grazing management on diet parameters and performance of yearling steers grazing native flood meadow vegetation in eastern Oregon Public Deposited

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  • A trial was conducted May 1 to September 4, 1989 at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC) Burns, OR to examine the effects of strip or continuous grazing management on the diet and performance of steers grazing native flood meadows. The objective was to determine if strip grazing would be a more efficient means of grazing management than continuous grazing. The experiment was designed to test diet quality, botanical composition of the diet, daily dry matter (DM) intake and performance of yearling steers. Eighty yearling steers weighing 253±17 kg were selected from cattle at the Squaw Butte Experiment Station. The experimental design was a randomized complete block, with blocking based on past forage production. Treatments were continuous or strip grazing. A representative meadow of approximately 22.4 ha was divided into four equal pastures. Continuous grazing steers had access to 5.6 ha pastures for the duration of the study. Animals on strip grazing were confined to an area that was estimated to provide 5-7 days of forage using New Zealand portable electric fencing. Strip sizes were predetermined based on standing forage crop. Steers were not allowed to graze more than 7 days in any one strip. Diet quality was estimated from bi-weekly esophageal samples. Extrusa was collected from 4 esophageal fistulated steers per treatment on two consecutive days. Collections were timed to coincide with the mid point of the strip being currently grazed. Samples were pooled by collection dates and analyzed for CP and IVOMD. Dietary OM intake was estimated from biweekly, 24 hr total fecal collections starting the day following esophageal collections. Total DM fecal output from 6 fecal collection steers per treatment was corrected with the %IVOMD to predict actual DM intake. Diet botanical composition was estimated by microhistological examination of fecal sub-samples. Animal weight gains were recorded bi-weekly. Experimental animals grazed together at all times during the trial. Initial stocking densities were 2.0 AU/ha in each treatment pasture. Steers were counted as .56 AU with 20 steers grazing 5.6 ha pastures. The average strip size over the trial was .46 ha; and depending upon standing crop of forage, ranged from .23-1.15 ha. Record moisture from snowmelt and rainfall resulted in greater than expected standing crop of forage. This growth resulted in under stocking of both treatment pastures. A 1.08 ha block was removed as hay from the higher forage producing strip treatment block to adjust for over abundant forage. This resulted in a total mean strip grazed area of 4.37 ha or 22% less than continuous grazing. Actual grazing density means over the summer were 2.6 AU/ha for continuous and 3.15 AU/ha for the strip treatment. Available forage was determined from clipped plots on a DM basis and expressed as herbage allowance at a given point in time. Herbage allowance for steers in continuous grazed pastures ranged from 405-1153 kg/AU when measured at bi-weekly intervals and 68-186 kg/AU for strip grazed steers when estimated at the beginning of each strip. Grazing pressure was higher for strip grazed steers (.10 AU/kg) compared to continuous (.02 AU/kg). Diet quality declined significantly over the summer (P<.01). Analysis for CP in steer diets provided values of 13.9 vs 10.9% for continuous and strip treatments, respectively. However, this difference was not significant (P=.14). Digestibility analysis suggested that forage in continuous diets tended (P=.07) to have higher IVOMD than strip diets (64.6 vs 60.7%), respectively. Daily herbage intake was similar (P=.42) for both treatments when expressed as a percentage of body weight. Diet botanical composition was positively affected by the type of management system. The amount of the major grass species, meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensjs), was increased (P=.05) 39% in the diet of strip grazing steers. Differences were noted in the amounts of other, less frequently occurring grass species. The total amount of grass tended (P=.06) to be higher in strip diets (49% vs 35% for continuous). Rushes (Juncus spp.) and sedges (Carex spp.) contributed a similar percentage to the diets of both treatments. Forbs comprised less than .5% of the overall diet of both strip and continuous steers. Individual animal performance tended (P=.09) to be higher under continuous grazing management. The ADG was 1.16 and .77 kg for steers in continuous and strip grazing, respectively. However, total animal production per hectare grazed area (26.14 vs 22.13 kg/hd) was not considered different (P=.17).
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