Section 3
Chapter 2,183

Performance, forage utilization, and ergovaline consumption by beef cows grazing endophyte fungus-infected tall fescue, endophyte fungus-free tall fescue, or orchardgrass pastures

Peters, C.W.; Grigsby, K.N.; Aldrich, C.G.; Paterson, J.A.; Lipsey, R.J.; Kerley, M.S.; Garner, G.B.

Journal of Animal Science 70(5): 1550-1561


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-8812
PMID: 1526924
DOI: 10.2527/1992.7051550x
Accession: 002182430

Two 120-d trials (May to September, 1988 and 1989) determined the effects of grazing tall fescue (two varieties) or orchardgrass on forage intake and performance by beef cows. Each summer, 48 cow-calf pairs grazed endophyte-infected Kentucky-31 tall fescue (KY-31), endophyte-free Mozark tall fescue (MOZARK), or Hallmark orchardgrass (OG) pastures (16 pairs/treatment). Forage OM intakes and digestibilities were determined during June and August each year. Cow and calf BW and milk production were determined every 28 d. During June of both years, OM intakes did not differ (P greater than .10) among treatments. During August of 1988, intakes were 18% lower (P less than .05) by KY-31 cows (1.6% of BW) than by MOZARK or OG cows (average 1.95% of BW); however, no differences (P greater than .10) were measured in August of 1989. Estimates of ergovaline consumption during June from KY-31 were between 4.2 (1988) and 6.0 mg/d (1989), whereas August estimates were between 1.1 (1988) and 2.8 mg/d (1989). Ergovaline in MOZARK estrusa was below detection limits, except in August of 1989. Cows that grazed KY-31 lost three times (P less than .01) more BW than cows that grazed MOZARK or OG (42 vs 9 and 13 kg, respectively). Milk production by KY-31 cows was 25% lower (P less than .01) than that by cows that grazed MOZARK or OG (6.0 vs average of 8.0 kg/d). Similarly, slower (P less than .01) calf gains were noted for KY-31 than for MOZARK or OG (.72 vs .89 and .88 kg/d, respectively). Cows grazing KY-31 experienced accelerated BW loss and reduced milk production and weaned lighter calves than did cows grazing MOZARK or OG. Decreased performance was not explained by consistently reduced forage intakes; hence, altered nutrient utilization was suspected.

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