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2014-212 Validating the Stage of Maturity At Harvest for Oat and Barley for Swath Grazing

Researcher: Bart Lardner

Funded: $9,000

Project Description:

Number of years: 3

The goal of this research was to undertake field-scale studies to evaluate the effects of delaying barley, oat and triticale maturity-at-harvest on digestible nutrient yield, forage utilization and subsequent animal performance over multiple years


Three 16 hectare fields were seeded to either barley, oat, or triticale. Each forage was cut at an early stage and a late stage. Forage yield, crude protein, and total digestible nutrients were measured for each of the harvested crops.

One hundred and twenty Angus cows were separated into one of 6 replicated treatments to measure their growth and the related feed cost.

The cost ranged from $1.16/cow/d for late harvest triticale to $2.43/cow/d for early harvest oat. There was a 14% increase in Dry Matter Intake (DMI) on barley hard dough. Grazing triticale hard dough forage resulted in a 54% increase in animal grazing days compared to grazing barley soft dough paddocks. ows managed in hard dough triticale (second lowest cost) system paddocks had two-fold lower (P = 0.05) system costs ($1.50 vs $4.55/cow/d), compared to cows grazing the barley hard dough crop (highest cost).

Research Courtney O'Keefe noted that "The results of this study suggest that harvesting whole crop annuals at a later harvest maturity may improve yield and reduce costs without negative effects on animal performance."

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