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Evaluation of acceptability of beef cattle of crownvetch grazed at several stages of maturity

, : Evaluation of acceptability of beef cattle of crownvetch grazed at several stages of maturity. Journal of Animal Science 45(5): 939-944

Experiments were conducted over a 2 yr period to evaluate the acceptability of several growth stages of crownvetch (Coronilla varia L.) by grazing beef cattle that had (testers) and had not (grazers) been acclimated to the forage. Cattle were acclimated to forage by grazing the forage during the entire season. The testers were 20 mo. old Angus steers in 1972 and 13 mo. old Angus steers and heifers in 1973. The tester cattle within each replication grazed .7 ha crownvetch the entire season, moving between lots as the forage in the individual lots reached the designated growth stage. Cattle testers readily grazed some portion of the crownvetch plant at all stages of maturity. The grazers which were approximately the same age as the testers spent less than half as much time grazing and more than twice as much time walking the fence line than the testers. Cattle selectively grazed the crownvetch leaves in preference to the stems at all growth stages. Most of the leaves were stripped from the stems during grazing at the seed pod growth stage. Seasonal forage dry matter yield averaged for the 2 crownvetch treatments cut 3 times was 8250 kg/ha compared to 6600 kg/ha for crownvetch cut 2 times. The proportion of leaves to stems of crownvetch whole-plant prior to grazing was .apprx. 5% less at either the bloom or seed pod maturity as compared to the pre-bloom growth stage. Average daily live weight gains of .80 kg and .63 kg for the tester cattle for the 1972 and 1973 grazing season, respectively, indicates that the tester cattle being maintained on crownvetch consumed an adequate level of crownvetch for satisfactory live weight gain.

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