Litter-Corn Mixture Boosts Cattle Weight GainBy
Feeding a composted litter-corn mixture to cattle on tall fescue pasture
could improve weight gains and profits for ranchers,
Agricultural Research Service scientists
The mixture is safe for cattle if it's composted at 140 degrees F, a
temperature that kills pathogens for at least 20 days, according to ARS
scientists at the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center, Booneville, Ark.
Tall fescue, a cool-season perennial grass, grows abundantly in the mid- to
upper southern parts of the United States and holds up well under heavy grazing
and other poor field conditions.
Many producers don't like growing cattle to graze tall fescue because it can
be infected with a fungus--called an endophyte--that produces toxins that can
cause health problems for the animals.
In a recent study, ARS scientist Glen Aiken found that feeding a litter-corn
mixture at a 1-to-1 ratio to cattle dilutes the endotoxins in endophyte-infected
tall fescue and increases daily weight gains per animal by 79 percent and live
weight gain (pounds- per-acre gain over the grazing season) by 69 percent. This
enables producers to give a less expensive feed to cattle and get the same
performance from infected and non- infected fescue.
The researchers warn that feeding cattle a litter-corn mixture on infected
fescue pasture can be cost-effective only if market prices for cattle are high
enough to offset corn costs.
Scientific contact: Glen Aiken, ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms
Research Center, Booneville, Ark., (501) 675-3834, fax (501) 675-2940,