Understanding forages
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Understanding Forages. Karen Hutchinson Virginia Cooperative Extension This is a presentation from Virginia Tech and it has not been edited by the Georgia Curriculum Office. . Forage Defined. Forage:

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Understanding Forages

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Understanding forages

Understanding Forages

Karen Hutchinson

Virginia Cooperative Extension

This is a presentation from Virginia Tech and it has not been edited by the Georgia Curriculum Office.


Forage defined

Forage Defined

  • Forage:

    • herbaceous plants, generally referring to pasture, hay, silage, and green chop, utilized for animal nutritional requirements.

    • Provides protein and energy


Forages defined cont d

Forages Defined, cont’d.

  • Protein

    • Quantified by taking the percentage of Nitrogen in a sample and multiplying by 6.25

  • Energy

    • Measured as TDN (total digestible nutrients), or what the animal can actually take away from the forage


Importance of forages

Importance of Forages

  • Provide roughage

  • Keep rumen working

  • Source of energy and protein

  • Can be less expensive than grain or other supplements


Typical forages

Typical Forages

  • Warm season vs. cool season

  • Cool season:

    • rye

    • fescue

    • bluegrass

    • orchard grass

    • timothy


Typical forages cont d

Typical Forages, cont’d

  • Warm season:

    • alfalfa

    • pearl millet

    • red and white clovers


Understanding forages 1357902

Rye

  • Winter pasture crop

  • Can be planted in late fall

  • Will germinate in temps close to freezing

  • Winter hardy

  • Can seed as early as August

  • Undesirable for dairy cattle

  • Good spring green manure crop

  • 14% protein; 53% TDN


Tall fescue

Tall Fescue

  • Big root system

  • Tolerates drought and poorly drained soil

  • Good for late fall, winter grazing

  • Good for stockpiling for later grazing

  • Plant in spring to use in later summer

  • 10% protein; 59% TDN


Bluegrass

Bluegrass

  • Shallow rooted

  • Tolerates close, continuous grazing

  • Very palatable

  • Unproductive during mid-summer

  • Best adapted to soils with limestone base

  • Plant in late summer to early fall for following year

  • 15% protein; 50% TDN


Orchard grass

Orchard Grass

  • Deep rooted

  • Can’t graze closely

  • Good vigorous growth

  • Winter killed

  • 15% protein; 71% TDN


Timothy

Timothy

  • Shallow rooted

  • Better for hay than for pasture

  • Adapted to cool/humid climates

  • Establish in late summer, early fall

  • 8% protein; 57% TDN


Alfalfa

Alfalfa

  • Complements energy from corn with high protein content

  • High in Ca, P, Mg

  • Spring seeding Feb 1 - Mar 15

  • Summer seeding after first good rain in Sep.

  • 17-22% protein; 57-67% TDN


Pearl millet

Pearl Millet

  • Both a warm and a cool season crop

  • 65 day growing season

  • 600,000 acres grown in SE U.S.

  • Seeded after danger of last frost

  • Good VA summer pasture

  • Leafy and palatable

  • 18% protein; 67% TDN


Red clover

Red Clover

  • Easily established

  • Short-lived (2yr. Max)

  • Comparable nutritionally to alfalfa

  • Seed in late summer to early fall for following spring


Selected beef cattle nutritional requirements

Selected Beef Cattle Nutritional Requirements


Forage quality indicators

Forage Quality Indicators


Activity

Activity

  • Select an appropriate forage or forage mix for the following animals:

    • 1st calf heifer in high milk

    • 350lb stocker

    • Developing heifer

    • Dry cow


1st calf heifer in high milk

1st calf heifer in high milk

  • Requires 13% protein, 68% TDN

    • Orchard grass and clover mix

    • Orchard grass (15% protein; 71% TDN)

    • Red clover (17% protein; approx. 70% TDN)


350lb stocker

350lb stocker

  • Requires 15% protein, 68% TDN

    • Orchard grass and alfalfa mix

    • Orchard grass (15% protein, 71% TDN)

    • Alfalfa (17-22% protein, 57-67% TDN)


Developing heifer

Developing heifer

  • Requires 17% protein, 68% TDN

    • Orchard grass and pearl millet mix

    • Orchard grass (15% protein, 71% TDN)

    • Pearl millet (18% protein, 67% TDN)


Dry cow

Dry cow

  • Requires 8% protein, 50% TDN

    • Tall fescue and timothy

    • Tall fescue (10% protein, 59% TDN)

    • Timothy (8% protein, 57% TDN)


Summary

Summary

  • Important to be aware of forage nutritional value

  • Can either cost or save producer money

  • Values differ among species and years

  • Values change during different growing stages


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