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SPRING GRAZING TRIAL

The pastures in the spring grazing trial were grazed for the sixth season this year. Yearling steers were on the pastures from May 2 to July 14, a period of 73 days. This year the crested-alfalfa pastures were stocked with eight yearling steers each, and one crested wheatgrass pasture (#3) was stocked with 6 steers, while the other crested wheatgrass pasture (#1) was stocked with eight steers. Pasture 1 was fertilized with 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre on April 13, 1960.

Table 18 summarizes pasture yields and forage utilization on the pastures for the 1960 season. It is apparent that the fertilized pasture produced much more forage than the unfertilized pasture, and substantially more than the production on the crested-alfalfa pastures. As the data of Table 17 shows the heavier stocking on Pasture 1 did not result in as heavy utilization as did the normal stocking on the unfertilized Pasture 3. Production on Pasture 1 was 1476 pounds per acre, on Pasture 3, 981 pounds per acre, and for the two crested-alfalfa pastures, 1200 pounds per acre. It is apparent that the influence of the alfalfa is still stimulating total forage production on the mixture pastures. Utilization on Pasture 1 was about 75 per cent, on Pasture 3, about 83 per cent, and the average utilization for the crested-alfalfa pastures was 88 per cent. In the case of these latter pastures, utilization was noticeably less heavy on Pasture 4 than on Pasture 2.

Table 18 summarizes the data on yield and forage consumption on the pastures for the 6-year period of the study. The forage data from Pasture 1 for the 1960 season are not included in the summer, so the data of the table represent the averages for straight crested wheatgrass pastures and crested-alfalfa pasture. On the basis of the 6-year averages, the crested-alfalfa pastures have produced 28.1 per cent more forage than the straight crested-wheatgrass pasture, and the yearling steers have consumed 29.5 per cent more forage on these pastures than on the straight crested wheatgrass pastures.

Table 17. Forage produced on pastures and forage utilized by yearling steers in the spring grazing trial in the 1960 season.
Pasture No. Pasture Type Forage produced lbs./acre Forage utilized lbs./acre Forage left on ground lbs./acre
1 Crested Wheatgrass* 1476 1110 366
3 Crested Wheatgrass 981 821 160
  Average - 1 & 3 1228 965 263
 
2 Crested-Alfalfa 1158 1103 55
4 Crested-Alfalfa 1242 1007 235
  Average - 2 & 4 1200 1055 145
*50 pounds of nitrogen per acre applied to Pasture 1 on April 12, 1960.

 

Table 18. Six-year summary of forage produced and utilized on spring grazing trial pastures - 1955-1960
Pasture Nos. Pasture Type Year Forage produced lbs./acre Forage utilized lbs./acre Forage left on- ground lbs./acre
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 1955 962 817 145
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 1956 743 556 187
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 1957 1046 827 219
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 1958 902 756 146
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 1959 1046 713 333
3* Crested Wheatgrass 1960 981 821 160
  6-Year Average   947 748 199
 
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 1955 1429 969 460
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 1956 1020 756 264
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 1957 1415 1231 184
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 1958 1102 930 172
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 1959 1110 870 240
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 1960 1200 1055 145
  6-Year Average   1213 969 244
*Pasture 1 not included because of fertilizer treatment.

Table 19 summarizes the animal data obtained during the 1960 season. On the fertilized crested wheatgrass the yearling steers gained an average of 165 pounds per head during the 73-day grazing period. On straight crested-wheatgrass, they gained 135 pounds per head, and on crested-alfalfa, 137 pounds per head. The average daily gains per head were 2.26 pounds on fertilized crested, 1.85 pounds on straight crested, and 1.88 pounds on crested-alfalfa.

The average gains per acre this year were 165.0 pounds on fertilized crested, 101.2 pounds on straight crestedwheatgrass, and 137.0 pounds on crested-alfalfa. Table 20 summarizes the animal data obtained on the pastures during the 6-year period of the study. Data from fertilized Pasture 1 are not included in this summary. The average results for the 6-year period clearly show the superiority of the crested-alfalfa pastures over the straight crested wheatgrass pastures in the production of pounds of beef per acre. Over the 6-year period of the trial, the crested-alfalfa pastures have produced 36.8 per cent more beef than the crested wheatgrass pastures.

Table 19. Performance of yearling steers on crested wheatgrass and crested wheatgrass-alfalfa pastures during spring grazing period from May 2 to July 4, 1960.
Pasture No. Pasture Type No. of Steers Acres per Pasture Days on Pasture Avg. initial wt./steer Avg. final wt./steer Avg. seasonal gain/head Avg. daily gain/head Gain per acre
1 Crested Whtgr.* 8 8 73 521 686 165 2.26 165.0
3 Crested Whtgr. 6 8 73 523 658 135 1.85 101.2
 
2 Crested-Alfalfa 8 8 73 521 658 137 1.88 137.0
4 Crested-Alfalfa 8 8 73 521 659 138 1.89 138.0
*Pasture #1 fertilizer with 50 pounds nitrogen per acre

 

Table 20. Six-year summary of weights and gains of yearling steers on crested wheatgrass and crested wheatgrass-alfalfa spring grazing trial pastures - 1955-1960.
Pasture Nos. Pasture Type Avg. initial weight-per steer-lbs. Avg. final weight-per steer-lbs. Avg. seasonal gain per head-lbs. Avg. daily gain per head-lbs. Gain per acre-lbs. Year
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 494 568 74 1.44 64.3 1955
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 520 601 81 1.79 60.3 1956
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 478 622 144 2.40 107.7 1957
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 555 680 127 2.02 95.3 1958
1 & 3 Crested Wheatgrass 528 666 138 2.64 103.2 1959
3* Crested Wheatgrass 523 658 135 1.85 101.2 1960
  6-Year Average 516 632 116 2.02 88.7  
 
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 494 600 106 2.06 92.2 1955
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 520 616 96 2.14 96.3 1956
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 498 639 141 2.35 158.1 1957
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 550 682 132 2.10 132.0 1958
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 523 636 113 2.17 112.0 1959
2 & 4 Crested-Alfalfa 521 658 137 1.88 137.5 1960
  6-Year Average 518 639 121 2.12 121.4  
*Pasture 1 not included because of fertilizer treatment.

Table 21 contrasts forage production and beef gains per acre on straight crested wheatgrass, on crested-alfalfa, and on crested wheatgrass fertilized with 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre for the last two years. The data shows that while the extra forage produced on fertilized crested wheatgrass would not pay for the cost of the fertilizer (forage at 1 cent per pound; fertilizer at 10 cents per pound), the extra beef produced on fertilized pasture figured at 20 cents per pound would return almost twice the cost of the fertilizer.

Table 21. Forage production and gains per acre on spring grazing trial pastures of crested wheat-grass, crested wheatgrass and alfalfa, and crested wheatgrass fertilized with 50 pounds nitrogen per acre - 1959-1960.
  Forage Production Gains per acre
Pasture 1959 1960 2-yr. Avg. 1959 1960 2-yr. Avg.
Crested Wheatgrass 940 981 960 106.5 101.2 103.6
Crested & Alfalfa 1110 1200 1155 112.5 137.0 124.7
Crested + 50# N 1152 1476 1314 133.0* 165.0 149.0
*Calculated gain based on pasture being grazed by 8 animals rather than the 6 actually used.

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