• Improving Cattle Nutrition on the Great Plains with Shrubs and Fecal Seeding of Fourwing Saltbush

      Kronberg S. L. (Society for Range Management, 2015-05)
      Two in vitro trials were conducted for estimates of dietary percentage of fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens; FS) or winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata; WF) for improved dietary digestibility when cattle graze mature cool-season grass. Three in vitro trials were conducted to estimate percentage of FS and WF seeds that could survive passage through the bovine gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) with potential for fecal seeding. Mixtures of FS and mature smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis; SB) or WF and SB had greater apparent digestibility than SB alone (P < 0.0001). There were positive linear relationships (r2 ≥ 0.93) between the amount of each shrub in digested mixtures and digestibility. Similar relationships were observed with mixtures of FS and mature Altai wildrye (Leymus angustus). Germination of Dakota FS seeds in the first trial, incubated for 24 or 48 h, was 55% and 47%, respectively, with no difference in germination of seeds for the 24- and 48-h incubations (P = 0.26), but more seeds germinated if incubated versus not (P ≤ 0.002). Germination of Utah FS seeds, which were incubated for 24 or 48 h with high-, medium-, or low-quality forage, averaged 9% and 8%, respectively. Length of incubation, forage quality, and their interaction did not influence germination (P ≥ 0.45). Germination of nonincubated Utah FS seeds was 21% and greater than for incubated seeds (P = 0.004). Average germination of WF seeds was 0.6% and 0.1% for 24- and 48-h incubations, respectively, with incubation length, forage quality, and their interaction not significant (P ≥ 0.31). Nonincubated WF seeds had greater germination (42%) than incubated seeds (P < 0.0001). Results from the third trial were confirmatory for Dakota FS seed. FS and WF can improve diet quality of grazing cattle in late summer through winter, and some FS seeds have potential for fecal seeding. © 2015, Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.