• Comparison of fecal analysis and rumen evacuation techniques for sampling diet botanical composition of grazing cattle

      Mohammad, A. G.; Pieper, R. D.; Wallace, J. D.; Holechek, J. L.; Murray, L. W. (Society for Range Management, 1995-05-01)
      Fecal samples, evacuated rumen samples, and non-evacuated rumen samples were compared at different seasons as techniques for determining diet botanical composition of cattle. The study was conducted at the New Mexico State University College Ranch near Las Cruces. Six rumen-fistulated steers were used spring (28 May-7 June), summer (19 July-8 August). fall 1989 (1-17 October), winter (8-28 January) 1990; 4 rumen-fistulated steers were used during summer (24 July-4 August) 1990. Sampling techniques differed (P < 0.05) for the proportion of some plant species in steer diets at certain seasons. In most cases, these differences were observed only for minor forage species. Similarity (%) between fecal samples, evacuated rumen samples, and non-evacuated rumen samples varied with season and with the particular techniques being compared. Similarity (%) between fecal samples and evacuated rumen samples (74%), and highest in summer (1989) between fecal samples and non-evacuated rumen samples (93%). Differential digestion, sampling procedures, and observer errors may explain these differences. For practical purposes, fecal analysis appears to be one of the best techniques to evaluate diet composition of large herbivores.
    • Grain supplementation on bluestem range for intensive-early stocked steers

      Owensby, C. E.; Cochran, R. C.; Brandt, R. T.; Vanzant, E. S.; Auen, L. M.; Clary, E. M. (Society for Range Management, 1995-05-01)
      A 4-year study was conducted on Kansas Flint Hills bluestem range to monitor animal gain, grass, and forb standing biomass following grazing, plant population dynamics, and in 2 years, subsequent feedlot performance of steers under intensive-early stocking supplemented with increasing levels of sorghum grain. Each year from 1988 through 1991, crossbred beef steers were stocked at 0.24 ha/100 kg of initial steer weight from 5 May to 1; July. Steers in twice-replicated pastures were given no supplementation, 0.91 kg rolled sorghum grain per head daily, or 1.82 kg rolled sorghum grain per head daily, which corresponded to approximately 0, 0.3, and 0.6% of body weight-1. All steers were implanted with estradiol 17 beta in 1988 and zeranol in 1989-91 during initial processing and had unlimited access to a lasalocid/mineral mixture during the entire trial. In 1989 and 1990, representative groups of steers selected from all treatment/pasture combinations were subjected to a feedlot finishing phase and carcass data were obtained. Grass and forb standing crops were estimated each year at livestock removal in mid-July and again in early October. Pretreatment species composition and basal cover were determined in 1988 and compared to those at the end of the study. In mid-July, when cattle were removed, residual standing biomass of grass increased in direct proportion to increasing level of supplement. Standing biomass of grass at the end of the growing season did not differ among pastures with different supplement levels. Forb standing biomass did not differ among pastures with different supplement levels in July or October. Changes in plant populations among treatments during the course of the study were minimal. During the early portion of the grazing period, sorghum grain supplementation did not significantly influence steer gains, but average daily gain during the latter part of the grazing period increased in direct proportion to increasing level of sorghum grain supplement. Daily gain. feed intake, carcass characteristics, and gain:feed ratio were not different among treatments during the feedlot phase. Although conversion efficiencies may be economically marginal, low-level grain supplementation has the potential to increase the daily gain of cattle grazing early-season tallgrass prairie under an intensive-early stocking program.
    • Herbage dynamics on 2 Northern Great Plains range sites

      Heitschmidt, R. K.; Grings, E. E.; Haferkamp, M. R.; Karl, M. G. (Society for Range Management, 1995-05-01)
      Quantity and quality of forage produced are primary determinants of level of livestock production derived from grazing lands. Moreover, species composition of herbage is often considered a primary determinant of the ecological condition of rangelands. The broad objective of this study was to quantify the productivity, growth dynamics, and quality of herbage growing on 2 Northern Great Plains range sites and to concurrently relate magnitude and composition of production to the ecological condition of the sites. Using frequent harvest techniques, the 2-year study showed herbage production on the highly productive silty range site averaged 219 g m-2 as compared to 218 g m-2 on the supposedly less productive clay pan range site. The primary reason the clay pan site proved to be as productive as the silty site was attributed to the greater amounts of introduced annual grasses on the clay pan (148 g m-2) than the silty site (104 g m-2). The annual grass component on the clay pan was a near equal mix (71 vs 51 g m-2) of Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus Thunb.) and cheatgrass (B. tectorum L.) whereas the overwhelming dominant on the silty site was cheatgrass (73 g m-2). Western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii Rydh. (Love)] was the dominant perennial grass on both sites averaging 49 g m-2 on the clay pan site and 57 g m-2 on the silty site. There were minimal differences between sites in terms of nutrient quality values (i.e., crude protein, acid detergent fiber, neutral detergent fiber) with results showing clearly that age of tissue was the major factor altering seasonal forage quality values. Range condition analyses revealed the clay pan site was in fair ecological condition and the silty site was in good condition. Study results demonstrate the need for land management agencies to continue to refine productivity estimates as well as adopt new techniques for assessing the ecological condition of rangelands.
    • Observation: Botanical and other characteristics in Arctic salt-affected coastal areas

      Bruce, L. B.; Panciera, M. T.; Gavlak, R. G.; Tilman, B. A.; Cadle, J. M. (Society for Range Management, 1995-05-01)
      This study was designed to provide information on cover, botanical composition, and frequency of major plant species in a brood-rearing area used by migratory geese south of Howe Island on the Sagavanirktok River Delta near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The area is split by the Endicott road and the information was also used to gain preliminary information concerning the effect of the road on goose and caribou activity. Transects on the east and west sides of the access road at the base of the Endicott causeway were established to evaluate occurrences of vegetation, goose fecal pellets, caribou tracks, and coastal debris. The point intercept method characterized plant cover, species frequency, and botanical composition. The recorded occurrence of fecal pellets and tracks on the transects were used as estimates of the presence of geese and caribou. Vegetative cover was 21% west and 38% east of the road near the Endicott causeway base in 1991. The 3 species most prominent west of the road were Carex sub-spathacea Wormsk., Salix spp., and Puccinellia phryganodes (Trin.) Scribn. & Merr. (botanical composition of 26, 23, and 21%, respectively). East of the road, Salix spp. (43%) dominated botanical composition followed by Carex aquatilis Wahlenb. (13%) and Dryas integrifolia M. Vahl (11%). The west and east sides differed botanically. Caribou tracks were observed in 60% of the transects on both sides of the road and goose fecal pellets were more prevalent on the west side (86%) than on the east side (48%). Geese pellets and caribou tracks occurred in different locations in the study area. Goose fecal pellets were from all goose species and may have included more than 1 year.