Warm-season annual forages in forage-finishing beef systems: I. Forage yield and quality

Deidre D. Harmon, Dennis W. Hancock, Robert L. Stewart, Jenna L. Lacey, Robert W. McKee, John D. Hale, Chevise L. Thomas, Elyse Ford, Jacob R. Segers, Chris D. Teutsch, Alexander M. Stelzleni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The demand for a year-round supply of fresh, locally grown, forage-finished beef products has created a need for foragefinishing strategies during the summer months in the southeast. A 3-yr study was conducted to evaluate four warm-season annual forages in a southeastern forage-finishing beef production system. Treatments were four forage species and included brown-midrib sorghum × sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor var. bicolor, Bicolor var. sudanense; BMR), sorghum × sudangrass (SS), pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.; PM], or pearl millet planted with crabgrass [Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop.; PMCG]. Treatments were distributed in a randomized complete block design with four replicates. Pastures (0.81 ha, experimental unit) were assigned to one of four forage treatments, subdivided, and rotationally stocked with a variable stocking density. Britishcross beef steers (n = 32; 3-yr average: 429 ±22 kg) grazed for 70, 63, and 56 d in 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively. Put-and-take animals were used to maintain a forage allowance of 116 kg forage dry matter /100 kg body weight. Forage mass was measured by clipping a 4.3-m2 area in triplicate on d 0 and on 14-d intervals. Hand grab samples for forage nutritive value determination and quadrat clippings for species compositions were measured on d 0 and on 34-d intervals until termination of the trial. Forage mass was lowest (P < 0.01) for PMCG at the initiation of the grazing trial, whereas BMR was greater (P < 0.01) than SS at wk 6. Total digestible nutrients in 2014 were greater for SS compared to BMR and PM at the middle harvest (P < 0.01) and BMR, PM, and PMCG at the final harvest (P < 0.01). At the middle and final harvests in both 2015 and 2016, PM and PMCG contained greater (P < 0.01) concentrations of crude protein than SS. These results suggest that BMR, SS, PM, and PMCG may all be used in southeastern forage-finishing beef production systems, as long as the producer strategically accounts for the slight growth and nutritive value differences throughout the season.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-926
Number of pages16
JournalTranslational Animal Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 26 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Beef
  • Forage-finishing
  • Grass-fed
  • Warm-season annuals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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