• Nutritional dynamics of 7 northern Great Basin grasses

      Ganskopp, D.; Bohnert, D. (Society for Range Management, 2001-11-01)
      Land, livestock, and wildlife managers need to understand the nutritional dynamics of forages to sustain adequate growth and reproduction of their animals and/or assure equitable payment for forages. Despite a long history of livestock grazing in the northern Great Basin, seasonal and annual nutritional dynamics of many of the region's prominent grasses have not been described. We addressed this issue via monthly sampling of 7 cool-season grasses at 6 sites during 1992, a drier than average year having 86% of mean precipitation, and 1993, when above average precipitation (167% of average) occurred. With high yields predicted in 1993 (1,257 kg ha(-1)), the period of adequate forage quality [crude protein (CP) greater than or equal to 7.5%] was 83 days. In addition grasses did not respond to 97 mm of July-August rain with renewed growth. During 1992, a growing season beginning with less than average moisture, grasses responded to midsummer (49 mm) and fall (69 mm) rains by maintaining greater than 7.5% CP for 185 days. A diversity of grasses expanded the period of adequate forage quality especially during the lower than average moisture year. Giant wildrye (Elymus cinereus Scribn. Merr.), a deeply rooted grass, supported high quality forage until mid August, but did not respond to late-season moisture. In contrast, shallow rooted grasses like bottlebrush squirreltail (Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.) Smith), Sandberg's bluegrass (Poa sandbergii Vasey), and the winter-annual cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) responded to summer or fall moisture with herbage ranging from 10 to 16% CP, thereby supplying high quality late-season forage. With most precipitation occurring in the northern Great Basin during colder months, livestock or habitat managers can, with a fair degree of certainty, predict yields from their pastures before turnout. With abundant moisture, managers will see the rapid deterioration of forage quality that occurs when grasses advance through their reproductive stages of phenology and generate a wealth of reproductive stems. The quandary arrives, however, when moisture accumulations are less than optimum. Fewer reproductive tillers develop, and our results show that timely precipitation may elevate desirable nutrient characteristics and expand the duration of adequate livestock/wildlife nutrition in the region. More long-term research is needed to decipher the mechanisms governing growth and development of rangeland grasses and to assess risks of various stocking alternatives when managers face uncertain yield and forage quality issues.
    • Suppression of annual bromes impacts rangeland: Animal responses

      Haferkamp, M. R.; Grings, E. E.; Heitschmidt, R. K.; MacNeil, M. D.; Karl, M. G. (Society for Range Management, 2001-11-01)
      Presence of annual bromes (Bromus spp.), introduced annual weedy grasses, can alter seasonal patterns of forage production and quality and require management changes for efficient use of infested rangelands. We determined biological impacts of the presence of brome by comparing livestock performance on brome infested rangeland to similar sites on which brome had been suppressed by autumn application of atrazine [6-chloro-N-ethyl-N'-(1-methylethyl)- 1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine] at 0.56 kg ha(-1) in 1992 and 1993. Each treatment was randomly assigned to three, 12-ha pastures. Vegetation was measured for 5 months (May to September) each year from 1993 to 1995. Each pasture was stocked with 8 crossbred steers of British breed origin (Bos taurus) from mid-May to mid-September 1993 and 1995 and to mid-August 1994. Initial body weights averaged 329 kg SD = 31 in 1993, 273 kg SD = 14 in 1994, and 272 kg SD = 21 in 1995. Brome suppression and environment influenced plant species in diets, diet quality, and livestock performance. Brome suppression reduced percentage of annual grasses in diets from 14% to 10%. Annual grasses were replaced in the diet by a variety of forb and grass species [western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii Rydb. (Love)], and blue grama [Bouteloua gracilis [H.B.K.] Lag. ex Griffiths]], with specific replacement depending on year and month. Steer gains were increased from 0.92 to 1.04 +/- 0.02 kg head(-1) day(-1) (P < 0.02) and from 69 to 81 +/- 2.8 kg ha(-1) (P < 0.05) with brome suppression. This experiment demonstrated that improvement in livestock performance can be expected with the suppression of annual bromes on semiarid rangelands.
    • Suppression of annual bromes impacts rangeland: Vegetation responses

      Haferkamp, M. R.; Heitschmidt, R. K.; Grings, E. E.; MacNeil, M. D.; Karl, M. G. (Society for Range Management, 2001-11-01)
      Presence of invading annual bromes (Bromus spp.) can alter seasonal patterns of forage production and quality and require management changes for efficient use of infested rangelands in the Northern Great Plains. We studied biological impacts of the presence of brome by comparing brome infested rangeland to similar sites in which brome had been suppressed with autumn applications of atrazine [6-chloro-N-ethyl-N'-(1-methylethyl)- 1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine] at 0.56 kg ha(-1) in 1992 and 1993. Each treatment was randomly assigned to three, 12-ha pastures. Vegetation was measured for 5 months (May to September) each year from 1993 to 1995. Each pasture was stocked with 8 cross-bred steers (Bos taurus) from mid-May to mid-September 1993 and 1995 and to mid-August 1994. The forage base varied temporally by date and year, but generally was not less than 800 kg ha(-1). Brome suppression increased (P less than or equal to 0.05) crude protein concentration for western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii Rydb. [Love]) in July (7.1 vs. 9.1%) and August (6.0 vs. 7.1%). With the variation in annual brome stands among years, as influenced by growing conditions, this experiment demonstrated that improvement in forage nutritional quality can be expected from suppression of annual bromes on semiarid rangelands.