Evaluation of Hay-Type and Grazing Tolerant Alfalfa Hybrids in Season-Long or Complementary Rotational Stocking Systems for Beef Cows
Pastures containing hay-type and grazing tolerant alfalfa hybrids were grazed in a season-long or complementary rotational stocking system with Nfertilized smooth bromegrass. The pastures were stocked at a seasonal density of .8 cow-calf pairs per acre for 120 days in 1998 and 141 days in 1999. Pastures were intensively managed by daily stripstocking with the assumptions that 50% of live forage was available and daily live dry matter consumption of each cow-calf pair was 3.5% of the cow’s body weight. First-cutting forage was harvested as hay from 40% of the pasture acres to remove excess forage growth early in the grazing season. Grazing occurred on the remaining 60% of each pasture for the first 44 and 54 days and 100% of each pasture after days 45 and 55 in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Proportions of ‘Amerigraze’ and ‘Affinity’ alfalfa in the live forage dry matter decreased by 70% and 55% in pastures stocked season-long and by 60% and 42% in pastures used for complementary stocking (alfalfa type, p<.05; grazing management, p<.05) in 1998, but decreased by a mean of 72% and was unaffected by hybrid or stocking system in 1999. Cows grazing either alfalfa hybrid by either grazing system had greater weight gains during the breeding and overall grazing seasons and greater increases in body condition score pre-breeding and during the breeding season than the cows that grazed smooth bromegrass for the entire season in 1998. Also, cows grazing either alfalfa hybrid in the season-long system had greater breeding season increases in body condition score than cows grazing alfalfa in the complementary system with smooth bromegrass in 1998. Cows grazing in the season-long alfalfa system had greater prebreeding season weight (p<.10) increases and condition score (p<.05) increases than cows grazing alfalfa in the complementary system in 1999. Daily and seasonal body weight gains of calves were not affected (p>.10) by the presence of alfalfa in 1998 or by alfalfa type and grazing management in 1998 and 1999. Total animal production (cow and calf) in 1998 was greater (p<.10) from the season-long alfalfa pastures compared with the complementary stocked pastures. Total (p<.10) and live (p<.05) forage masses, estimated by monthly clippings, were greater in September of 1998 from the season-long alfalfa pastures than pastures using alfalfa for complementary stocking. Total (p<.10) and live (p<.05) forage masses were greater in August of 1999 from season-long alfalfa pastures than pastures using alfalfa for complementary stocking.