Nutritional strategies to improve performance of cattle in fescue forage-based systems

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Virginia Tech


Two experiments were conducted to determine the efficacy of supplemented feedstuffs to improve the performance of cattle consuming fescue-based rations. The objective of the first experiment was to evaluate growth and reproductive characteristics of heifers consuming endophyte-infected (EI) fescue seed with or without sodium bicarbonate supplementation. Forty-eight heifers (8 mo; BW = 268 ± 24 kg) were utilized in a 2 x 2 factorial design. Treatments were either high-EI fescue seed without sodium bicarbonate (E+B-), high-EI fescue seed with sodium bicarbonate supplementation (E+B+), low-EI fescue seed without sodium bicarbonate (E-B-), or low-EI fescue seed with sodium bicarbonate supplementation (E-B+). At d 56, G:F (P= 0.084) and ADG (P = 0.071) tended to be improved for heifers fed E+B+. By d 84 bicarbonate supplementation tended to decrease ADG (P = 0.087). Bicarbonate supplementation ameliorated the negative effects of E+ at 28 d, but by d 84 negatively impacted animal performance. The objective of the second experiment was to determine the energy content of corn gluten feed (CGF) relative to corn in forage-based beef rations. Forty-two steers (13.8 ± 0.4 mo; BW = 382 ± 8 kg) were supplemented with either corn or CGF at 0.15% (L), 0.54% (M) or 0.96% (H) BW for 63 d. Steer ADG was greater for steers supplemented with CGF relative to steers supplemented with corn (P = 0.034). Energy value of CGF relative to corn was calculated by adjusting supplement TDN in the 2016 Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle Model. The energy values of CGF relative to corn were 106%, 107%, and 112% for L, M, and H.



fescue, supplementation, beef cattle, Nutrition