Grazing Behavior of Beef Steers Grazing Endophyte-Infected, Endophyte-Free, and Novel Endophyte Infected Tall Fescue, and Lakota Prairie Grass

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Virginia Tech

Endophyte infected Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is the most dominant grass used for pasture in the Southeastern U.S. As a result, fescue toxicosis is a major concern. Producers need alternative forages for grazing cattle that do not have this negative aspect. The objective of this experiment was to determine the grazing behavior of cattle grazing Lakota (L) prairie grass (Bromus catharticus Vahl.), endophyte infected (E+), endophyte free (E-), and novel endophyte (Q) tall fescues. Angus-crossbred steers (279±8 kg) steers wore electronic behavior data recorders in four sampling periods, and direct visual appraisals of behavior were taken in five sampling periods during the months of May to September, 2004. Overall, during the visual appraisal phase steers grazing L spent most time (P<0.05) grazing while E+ spent the least time grazing. Overall, steers grazing E+ spent more time (P<0.05) idling than those on L, E-, or Q. Steers grazing E+ spent more time (P<0.05) standing than steers grazing Q. Steers grazing Q and E- spent more time (P<0.05) lying than those grazing E+. During the data recorder phase there were no significant differences between treatments for time spent grazing. Steers grazing E+ spent less time (P<0.05) lying and ruminating than steers grazing Q or L. Conversely, time spent standing and idling for steers grazing E+ was higher (P<0.05) than for steers grazing Q or L. These results indicate that L, E-, and Q may offer benefits to producers due to more time spent in productive activities during summer months.

beef steers, tall fescue, prairie grass, fescue toxicosis, grazing behavior