• Cattle Grazing Blue Grama Rangeland. I. Seasonal Diets and Rumen Fermentation

      McCollum, F. T.; Galyean, M. L.; Krysl, L. J.; Wallace, J. D. (Society for Range Management, 1985-11-01)
      Four field trials were conducted from early August to late October, 1982, on blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) rangeland in south-central New Mexico to examine relationships among grazing season, diet botanical and chemical composition, and rumen fermentation in beef steers (Bos taurus). Diets contained an average of 83% grasses and 17% forbs from early August through late September and 77% forbs in late October. Cell wall content of the diet decreased from the early growing season (74.9%) through the onset of dormancy (64.9%) while acid detergent fiber and lignin increased (41.9 to 52.9% and 5.2 to 12.7%, respectively) and crude protein content declined from 18.4 to 11.7%. Soluble and insoluble nitrogen (N) fractions of the diet reflected crude protein; from 13 to 36% of N was in unavailable forms. The extent of in vitro organic matter digestion declined from the early growing season (66.5%) through onset of dormancy (47.9%). Ruminal ammonia concentrations declined as season progressed: 6.0 mg/100ml was the lowest concentration observed. Declining diet quality was accompanied by an upward shift in digesta pH and altered proportions of volatile fatty acids (VFA) in rumen contents. Total VFA concentration was highest in late August (106.3 mmoles/liter). Ruminal measures generally reflected changes in dietary protein and digestibility but concentrations could also reflect changes in digesta flow rates. Finally, data suggest that crude protein may not be a good measure of protein supply to livestock grazing on ranges with diverse forage types.