Utilizing Crabgrass and Pearl Millet as Pinpoint Grazing Systems for Yearling Beef Cattle in Mississippi
Volume 15, Issue 1 - June 2022
Editor: Linda Chalker-Scott
The profitability of beef cattle production in the southern USA relies on ruminants grazing highly nutritive pastures. Traditional perennial warm-season grasses (PWSG) such as bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) and bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) tend to have limited nutritive value. Warm-season annual grasses (WSAG) such as crabgrass (Digitaria spp.) and pearl millet (Pennisetum typhoides) can be used as a supplemental forage to improve animal performance during the summer months (pinpoint grazing). The objective of this study was to determine the impact of WSAGs compared to bahiagrass on forage DM yield, nutritive value, and performance of growing beef cattle. The study contained five treatments replicated three times. Treatments included pearl millet (‘Prime 380’), three crabgrass cultivars [Mojo Brand (28.4% ‘Red River’ + 20.0% ‘Impact’), ‘Red River,’ and ‘Quick-N-Big Spreader’), and bahiagrass. Pearl millet was planted at 25 lb and crabgrass at 10 PLS ac-1. Treatments were fertilized with 100 lb N ac-1 yr-1 in 50/50 split applications. Pre-grazing forage samples were collected to determine forage biomass and nutritive value. Grazing began when pearl millet reached 18 to 24 inches and crabgrass was 12 to 15 inches. The average stocking rate was 1500 lb BW ac-1. Total biomass production was similar among treatments. Bahiagrass had the lowest nutritive value compared to WSAG during the same grazing duration. Overall, WSAG produced 80% greater ADG compared to bahiagrass. Red River crabgrass produced greater gain per acre (112 lb ac-1) among treatments.
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