Browsing Journal of Range Management, Volume 54, Number 4 (July 2001) by Subjects
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Alkaloids as anti-quality factors in plants on western U.S. rangelandsAlkaloids constitute the largest class of plant secondary compounds, occurring in 20 to 30% of perennial herbaceous species in North America. Alkaloid-containing plants are of interest, first because alkaloids often have pronounced physiological reactions when ingested by livestock, and second because alkaloids have distinctive taste characteristics. Thus, alkaloids may kill, injure, or reduce productivity of livestock, and have the potential to directly or indirectly alter diet selection. We review 7 major categories of toxic alkaloids, including pyrrolizidine (e.g., Senecio), quinolizidine (e.g., Lupinus), indolizidine (e.g., Astragalus), diterpenoid (e.g., Delphinium), piperidine (e.g., Conium), pyridine (e.g., Nicotiana), and steroidal (Veratrum-type) alkaloids. Clinically, effects on animal production vary from minimal feed refusal to abortion, birth defects, wasting diseases, agalactia, and death. There are marked species differences in reactions to alkaloids. This has been attributed to rumen metabolism, alkaloid absorption, metabolism, excretion or directly related to their affinity to target tissues such as binding at receptor sites. In spite of alkaloids reputed bitter taste to livestock, some alkaloid-containing plant genera (e.g., Delphinium, Veratrum, Astragalus, Oxytropis, and Lupinus) are often readily ingested by livestock. Management schemes to prevent losses are usually based on recognizing the particular toxic plant, knowing the mechanism of toxicity, and understanding the temporal dynamics of plant alkaloid concentration and consumption by livestock. Once these aforementioned aspects are understood, losses may be reduced by maintaining optimal forage conditions, adjusting grazing pressure and timing of grazing, aversive conditioning, strategic supplementation, changing livestock species, and herbicidal control.
Complementary grazing of native pasture and Old World bluestemNative pasture and Old World bluestems (Bothriochloa spp.) have contrasting herbage production characteristics that suggest potential for incorporation into a complementary forage system. We compared 2 yearling beef production systems consisting of either native pasture (Native) or Old World bluestem combined with native pasture (Old World bluestem-Native) over 5 years. Crossbred steers (initial weight 257 kg) grazed only native pasture in the Native system, but alternated between Old World bluestem and native pastures in the Old World bluestem-Native system. Production system had no effect on the frequency of any plant species in the native pastures (P > 0.16) even though stocking rate in the growing season was increased 31% in the Old World bluestem-Native system. Peak standing crop of Old World bluestem averaged 4640 kg ha(-1) but did not differ between the cultivars 'WW-Iron Master' and 'WW-Spar' (P = 0.16). Individual steer gain was higher in the Native system during the Winter (P < 0.01) and Early Native (P = 0.03) management periods, but was greater in the Old World bluestem-Native system when steers were grazing Old World bluestem in June and July (P < 0.001). Over the entire season, steers in the Native system gained 13.5 kg head(-1) more than steers in the Old World bluestem-Native system. Total livestock production was greater in the Old World bluestem-Native system (77 versus 47 kg ha(-1), P < 0.01). Relative economic returns between the 2 systems were dependent on the marginal value of livestock gain and the relative costs of production for the 2 types of pasture. With average costs for native pasture of 17 ha(-1) and for Old World bluestem pasture of 62.10 ha(-1), the Native system was often more profitable, even though livestock production per ha was much higher with the Old World bluestem-Native system. Lower costs for native pasture and high values of livestock gain favored the Native system.