Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: November 29, 2012
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The yield and nutritive value of leaves, stems, and total forage of eight different perennial cool-season grasses were compared at 30-day intervals in spring, summer, and fall at two Wisconsin locations. Total forage production of all grasses was greatest during spring, as expected, and differences in leaf yield were minimal, with the exception of smooth bromegrass. During summer and fall, endophyte-infected and endophyte-free tall fescue produced the greatest leaf yields, while quackgrass and smooth bromegrass produced the least leaf yields. Crude protein concentrations varied among grass-species leaves throughout the grazing season, but always exceeded 16%, and thus were likely inconsequential. Leaves of meadow fescue and timothy had the least neutral detergent fiber and greatest neutral detergent fiber digestibility. Total-season yield differences among grasses were due largely to differences in spring stem yield. The greater nutritive value of meadow fescue must be balanced against its lesser productivity compared to orchardgrass and tall fescue. Tall fescue demonstrated a clear leaf-yield advantage over the other grasses.