Comparison of soybean meal/sorghum grain, alfalfa hay and dehydrated alfalfa pellets as supplemental protein sources for beef cattle consuming dormant tallgrass-prairie forage.

T. DelCurto, R. C. Cochran, T. G. Nagaraja, L. R. Corah, A. A. Beharka, E. S. Vanzant

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24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Three experiments were conducted to compare soybean meal/sorghum grain (SBM/SG), alfalfa hay or dehydrated alfalfa pellets (DEHY) as supplemental protein sources for beef cattle grazing dormant range forage. In Exp. 1 (35-d digestion study), 16 ruminally cannulated steers were stratified by weight (average BW 259 kg) and assigned randomly within stratification to: 1) control, no supplement; 2) SBM/SG (25% CP) fed at .48% BW; 3) alfalfa hay (17% CP) fed at .70% BW; or 4) DEHY (17.4% CP) fed at .67% BW. Steers receiving protein supplements displayed at least a twofold increase in forage intake (P less than .10). In addition, steers supplemented with DEHY consumed approximately 15% more forage (P less than .10) than SBM/SG- or alfalfa hay-supplemented steers. Digestible DM intake (kg/d), however, was similar between alfalfa hay- and DEHY-supplemented steers and 20% greater (P less than .10) than for SBM/SG-supplemented steers. In Exp. 2, 82 mature, nonlactating Hereford x Angus cows (average BW 489 kg) were assigned randomly to SBM/SG, alfalfa hay or DEHY supplement treatments, which were replicated in three pastures. Cows supplemented with DEHY gained more weight (P less than .05) during the first 84 d of supplementation and displayed the least amount of weight loss at calving (d 127; P less than .05) and just prior to breeding (P less than .10). In contrast, calving interval (361 d) and pregnancy rate (94%) were unaffected (P greater than .10) by dam's previous supplemental treatment. In Exp. 3, one block (pasture) of cows from Exp. 2 was selected at random and grazing behavior was monitored during week-long periods in January and February. A treatment X time interaction (P less than .05) occurred for total time spent grazing; treatments did not differ in January, but cows supplemented with alfalfa hay spent less time grazing in the February grazing period. In conclusion, DEHY and alfalfa hay appear to be at least as effective as SBM/SG as a supplemental protein source for pregnant grazing cows when supplements are fed on an equal CP and ME basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2901-2915
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume68
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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