Beginning in the fall of 2000 a trial was conducted at the Blackbelt
Research & Extension Center to evaluate the use of stockpiled fescue
as a supplement to hay rather than as a replacement of the hay. We
know that through the winter fescue will hold its nutritional value, which
is quite good (e.g., 68% TDN and 12% CP). During the first year,
the fall of 2000, there was not enough moisture to stockpile fescue thus
we were unable to use it. Obviously, the system does not work every
year, it is weather dependent.
However, for the winter of 01-02 and 02-03 there was
adequate moisture and we were able to stockpile the fescue. The cows at the
station are Simmental x Angus and calve in Oct/Nov primarily. The fescue
was fertilized with 60 pounds of N per acre in early September and then cows
began grazing it as they calved. There were three winter feeding treatments
with approximately 25 cows per treatment, all three received free-choice
oat hay and then were: 1) supplemented with 7 pounds of whole cottonseed/day,
2) supplemented with 7 pounds of soyhulls/day or 3) grazed on stockpiled
fescue for 1 to 2 hours per day. Approximately 1.25 acres of stockpiled
fescue was set aside per cow. All cattle were fed the hay on pastures
that contained some fescue. The oat hay fed during the two winters contained
55.5 and 52.9% TDN, respectively and 8.0 and 10.7% CP, respectively. Results
were as follows:
BCS # bred
Lbs hay consumed
Stck Fescue 1305
Stck Fescue 1226
BCS = body condition score. Also, no differences were observed for
calf weights in either year.
As you can see, all supplementation programs provided
adequate nutrition for the cows. You can price cottonseed and soyhulls
and compare that to applying 60 pounds of nitrogen to fescue and also give
some thought to the management systems involved. Daily feeding versus
daily moving of the cows on and off of the stockpiled fescue. Whether
you use stockpiled fescue for a hay replacement or for a supplement to hay
it has some real potential for cost savings when adequate moisture is available.
This has certainly been a good moisture year so far. What about some
results from your farm in 03-04!!
As always contact me if you have specific questions.
Also, Mr. Jimmy Holliman is the superintendent of the Blackbelt Research
& Extension Center and conducted these trials and would also be able
to address any specific questions.