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Diets selected and growth of steers grazing buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris cv. Gayndah)–Centro (Centrosema brasilianum cv. Oolloo) pastures in a seasonally dry tropical environment

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Dixon, R. M., Shotton, P. and Mayer, R. J. (2020) Diets selected and growth of steers grazing buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris cv. Gayndah)–Centro (Centrosema brasilianum cv. Oolloo) pastures in a seasonally dry tropical environment. Animal Production Science, 60 (11). pp. 1459-1468.

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/AN19327

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/AN19327


Context: Liveweight (LW) gain of grazing cattle in the seasonally dry tropics is usually moderate during the wet season (WS) and declines to slow growth or LW loss during the dry season (DS). Cattle growth can often be improved by inclusion of herbaceous legumes into pastures to improve their nutritional quality.Aims: A study examined the quality of the diet selected and the growth of young cattle grazing a buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris)–Centro (Centrosema brasilianum) pasture in a high-rainfall, seasonally dry, tropical environment in northern Australia to relate the diet selected to cattle growth.Methods: During three annual cycles, young steers grazed a grass–Centro legume pasture at moderate stocking rate. LW was measured monthly, and diet attributes (legume content, DM digestibility (DMD) and crude protein concentration) were measured fortnightly by near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy analyses of faeces. Pasture available and species were measured twice annually.Key results: The annual LW gain and diet attributes followed a consistent profile through the annual cycles. Following the seasonal break, the diet DMD and crude protein concentration increased abruptly to maxima (means 732 and 184 g/kg respectively), and then declined approximately linearly during the remainder of the WS and the wet–dry transition season (TS); DMD decreased by 0.49, 0.74 and 0.88 g/kg units per day. DMD and crude protein averaged 561 and 61 g/kg respectively during the DS. Centro comprised 86–291 g/kg of the pasture on offer, and averaged 283 and 205 g/kg of the diet during the TS and DS, respectively, but only 58 g/kg during the WS. Cattle selected for Centro during the TS and the DS, but not during the WS. Cattle LW gain reflected diet quality averaging 0.86, 0.59 and 0.12 kg/day during the WS, TS and DS respectively.Conclusions: The Centro legume contributed substantially to the diet of growing cattle during the TS and DS, but not during the WS. The LW gains of cattle were moderate during the WS and TS, and low during the DS.Implications: Centro in a buffel grass pasture contributed substantially to the diet, but nevertheless annual LW gain was only modest (mean 179, range 159–209 kg/annum).

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:cattle growth, diet selection, near-infrared spectroscopy, tropical legumes.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Animal culture > Cattle
Veterinary medicine > Veterinary microbiology
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Live Archive:31 Aug 2020 23:10
Last Modified:22 Nov 2022 23:19

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