Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

The influence of supplemental alfalfa quality on the intake and utilization of low-quality roughages by beef cattle Public Deposited

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  • Three experiments were conducted to evaluate the influence of quality of supplemental alfalfa quality on beef cattle consuming low-quality meadow grass (MG) roughages. Fifteen steers (250 kg) were assigned randomly to one of three treatments: 1) meadow grass (5.2% CP), no supplement (MNS); 2) meadow grass plus high quality alfalfa hay (AHS) (18.8% CP); and 3) meadow grass plus low quality alfalfa hay (ALS) (15.2% CP). Supplements were fed at 0.45% BW and 0.55 % BW respectively. Total DM intake was greater (P<.01) for alfalfa supplemented steers. Likewise intake of digestible DM, DM digestibility and ruminal ammonia levels were greater for alfalfa supplemented steers (P<.01). In Exp. 2; 96 gestating Hereford x Simmental cows (537 kg; body condition 4.86) were assigned to the same treatments as in Exp. 1. For d-0 to d-42 cows grazed on 19.1 ha of stockpiled MG (4539 kg/ha; 6.8% CP) whereas d-43 to d-84, cows received MG hay (5.2% CP). Results for the 84-d study indicated that supplemented cows gained more BW (P<.01), body condition (P<.01) and had heavier (P<.01) calf birth weights than MNS cows. In the first 42-d period supplemented cows gained 16.2 kg more BW than MNS cows (P<.01). Likewise, supplemented cows increased .24 BC more (P<.01) than MNS cows. The same trend was observed from d-42 to d-84, though ALS cows lost more BC (P<.01) than the AHS cows. In Exp. 3; 90 gestating Angus x Hereford cows (475 kg; body condition 4.59) were assigned to one of three supplemental treatments: 1) 16.1% CP alfalfa; 2) 17.8% CP alfalfa; 3) 20.0% CP alfalfa. The level of supplementation was 0.63%, 0.55%, and 0.50% of BW, respectively. The basal diet was baled MG hay (5.6% CP). Weight gain and BC change for the 84-d study displayed a quadratic response (P<.10). In conclusion, alfalfa hay is an effective way of increasing low-quality roughage DM intake and digestibility. However, alfalfa hay quality did not appear to dramatically effect BW, BC, and (or) calf birth weights, when fed on a isonitrogenous basis. (KEY WORDS: Beef cattle, Supplementation, Meadow Hay, Alfalfa Hay)
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