Evaluation of Warm-Season Baleage in a Cow-Calf Production System
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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A 52-d feeding trial was conducted to compare pearl millet (PM) and sorghum sudan (SS) harvested as baleage with bermudagrass hay (B) fed to cow/calf pairs during a winter feeding system. Alternating cone (C) and open-shaped (O) rings were evaluated for minimizing forage wastage. A total of 12, two hectare, pastures populated with three cow/calf pairs per pasture were utilized in this study. Each pasture had a different forage ring treatment, including: PM C, PM O, SS C, SS O, B C, and B O; with a replicate of each forage ring treatment. Forage quality parameters were measured for each treatment and included ash, CP, IVTD, NDF, ADF, and ADL. Animal performance was also recorded including initial and final cow BW and BCS, initial and final calf BW, and cow milk production at day 32 and 52 of the feeding trial. Differences (P < 0.10) were observed among forage for concentrations of ash, CP, NDF, ADF, ADL and percentage IVTD. Forage ash concentration and percentage IVTD were greater (P > 0.10) in PM and SS baleage than bermudagrass hay, whereas the CP, NDF, ADF, and ADL concentrations were less (P > 0.10) than bermudagrass hay. There were no (P > 0.10) forage ring interactions or differences between open and cone-shaped hay ring treatments for forage waste; however, the percentage of waste from PM and SS baleage was greater (P < 0.10) than that of bermudagrass hay. There were no forage ring interactions (P > 0.10) for cow initial BW, final BW, initial BCS, or final BCS. There were no differences (P > 0.10) in cow weight or BCS loss among forage treatments or ring shape in this study. There were also no forage ring interactions, or differences among forage or between ring-shape treatments (P > 0.10) for milk production and calf BW gain. Calf weight gain differed (P < 0.10) between ring-type treatments, with calves on the open-shaped ring treatment weighing 6.13 kg more than calves on the cone-shaped ring treatment. Because there were no differences (P > 0.10) in animal performance, this study suggests it would not be economical to harvest forage as baleage to supplement lactating beef cows during a fall-winter forage gap. Harvesting forage as baleage might be economical for a producer with cattle having higher CP and IVTD requirements, such as growing steers or lactating dairy cows; as well as, a herd size greater than the one utilized in this study. Results of this study suggest purchasing a cone-shaped hay ring is not an advantageous business decision because the percent of forage waste and animal performance did not differ (P > 0.10) between the cone and open-shaped hay rings.