• Survival of 16 alfalfa populations space planted into a grassland

      Hendrickson, J. R.; Berdahl, J. D. (Society for Range Management, 2003-05-01)
      Many alfalfa (Medicago spp.) cultivars have limited ability to persist under grazing and therefore, a key step in incorporating alfalfa into pastures and rangelands is choosing a grazing tolerant cultivar. In this study, we evaluated the grazing tolerance of 16 alfalfa populations representing a range of potential grazing tolerance. Entries were transplanted on a rangeland site in July 1996 at the Northern Great Plains Research Lab in Mandan, N.D., USA and mob-grazed by cattle from 1997 to 2000. Plant survival, basal area, and stem numbers were recorded in the spring and fall of each year. At the final survival evaluation in May 2001, SCMF 3713 had the highest survival (90%), 'Vernal' had the lowest (23%) and 10 of the 16 entries had greater than 50% survival. A large decline in survival between September 2000 and May 2001 may be attributed to low temperatures in November and December of 2000. Entries such as 'Alfagraze', B-36 and Agripro ZG9415, which were developed in warmer climates, had the largest percentage drop in survival (43.0, 48.6, and 48.6 percentage points respectively) while SCMF 3713, 'Anik' and Alaska Syn A, developed in colder climates, had the least percentage point drops (2.8, 4.1, and 4.1 respectively). The ability to survive over winter contributed more to the different survival rates of these alfalfa populations than did any of the measured plant variables. Producers should know the origins of grazing tolerant alfalfa cultivars and consider selecting cultivars that have been tested in their area.
    • Technical note: a technique for conducting small-plot burn treatments

      Korfmacher, J. L.; Chambers, J. C.; Tausch, R. J.; Roundy, B. A.; Meyer, S. E.; Kitchen, S. (Society for Range Management, 2003-05-01)
      An experimental design required burn treatments for 10-m2 circular plots. We constructed a fire enclosure for the plots using sheetmetal, electrical conduit, and other commonly available materials. We field tested the enclosure in sagebrush-grass ecosystems in central Nevada and central Utah, and evaluated peak fire temperatures using small metal tags striped with temperature sensitive paint. We obtained average peak surface temperatures of 310, 307, and 381 degrees C in bare ground, under grass, and under shrub microsites, respectively, for the Nevada sites and 253, 299, and 337 degrees C for the same microsites, respectively, in Utah. Subsurface (2-cm depth) temperatures rarely exceeded 79 degrees C, the lowest temperature detectable by our method. The enclosure contained the fire and did not permit escape of any embers or firebrands. The fire enclosure, burn technique and temperature monitoring method used are inexpensive, easily deployed, and desirable for experiments where larger-scale burns are impractical.
    • Toxicity and development of tolerance in cattle to timber milkvetch

      Majak, W.; Stroesser, L.; Lysyk, T.; Hall, J. W. (Society for Range Management, 2003-05-01)
      Timber milkvetch (TMV, Astragalus miser Dougl. ex Hook var. serotinus) is widely distributed on rangelands in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. It synthesizes large quantities of miserotoxin, a glycoside that is toxic to cattle. Six grazing studies were conducted at Sixtyone Creek on the Cariboo Plateau during 1993 to 2000 to determine which class of livestock was most susceptible to TMV, to record clinical signs of poisoning under range conditions, and to determine the efficacy of protein supplements for the prevention of TMV poisoning. In vitro rates of TMV detoxification in rumen fluid were determined concurrently. Incidents of early, acute and chronic poisoning were documented using a total of 143 cows over the 6 year study. Older cows (more than 3-years old) and yearling heifers were less susceptible to TMV than lactating first-calf heifers, which showed acute signs of poisoning. A chronic syndrome was sometimes seen in second-calf heifers, especially during exertion. Heifers not previously exposed to TMV, such as those that were obtained from the prairie region of Alberta, were also more susceptible than cattle originating in B.C. with a known history of exposure to TMV. Each year, Hereford cows were divided into 2 groups, one of which received free-choice protein supplements in a molasses block, the other did not receive supplement and served as a control group during the 6-week grazing trial. The control group yielded 25 cases of TMV poisoning during the 6-year study, compared with 2 for the supplement group. However, the supplement increased rates of TMV detoxification (> 50%) in only 1 of the 5 years of testing. Native cattle yielded higher rates of TMV detoxification (> 25%) in 2 of the 5 years than introduced cattle. The innate capacity to transfer rumen microbial activity between cattle in close proximity and the natural enrichment of rumen microbial populations could elevate rates of detoxification regardless of supplement or origin.