Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Animal Grazing Preferences and Forage Quality of Cool Season Grasses and Legumes Growing as Monoculture and Binary Mixtures under Rotational Grazing.

Nasser Al-Ghumaiz, Richard H. Leep, and Timothy S. Dietz. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325


Grass-legume forage mixtures are important to animal production in the temperate United States.  The objective of this study, which was conducted from 2004-06 at Hickory Corners, MI, was to assess animal grazing preferences and forage quality of introduced grass and legume cultivars grown in monoculture and binary mixtures.  Animal preference varied among forage species whether they were growing in monoculture or binary mixtures. Our results indicated that grazing preference is dependent on the type of pasture species and the species within the mixtures; binary mixtures were preferred over the monocultures.  Higher crude protein (CP), lower acid detergent fiber (ADF), and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) were found in binary mixture treatments compared to grass monoculture and to legume monoculture treatments.  Our results show that drought stress may have a negative impact on animal preferences.  We can conclude that, with adequate moisture level, the binary mixtures of festulolium (Duo)-legume and perennial ryegrass-legumes showed improved palatability and forage quality compared to monoculture cultivars, which may indicate these mixtures are a good choice for livestock producers to use for grazing. Total dry matter yield and animal preferences were not always positively correlated.