The 2008 Joint Meeting of the Society for Range Management and the America Forage and Grassland Council.

Monday, January 28, 2008 - 4:40 PM

Forage Chicory (Cichorum intybus) as An Alternative Grazing Crop for Stocker Cattle Operations

Jimmy R. Parish1, Jane A. Parish2, Richard H. Watson3, Tim F. Best4, Rocky Lemus1, and Allen S. Hubbard2. (1) Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University, P. O. Box 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (2) Animal and Dairy Sciences, Mississippi State University, P. O. Box 9815, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (3) Forage Improvement, AgResearch Limited, Cnr Springs Rd & Gerald St, Private Bag 4749, Christchurch, New Zealand, (4) MAFES Prairie Experiment Station, Mississippi State University, P. O. Box 60, Prairie, MS 39756

Annual ryegrass (ARG) has long been the preferred grazing crop for stocker operators in the southeastern USA.  However, the rising cost of establishing ARG has given more attention to the use of perennial forages.  Chicory (CHY), a perennial forb, has demonstrated high potential as a forage crop in small plot research.  The objective of this study was to evaluate CHY as an alternative to ARG for spring stocker cattle production.  Pastures (ARG and CHY) were established in a randomized block design with four replicates.  Chicory was established in September of 2004 and ARG was planted each September.   The two forage systems were rotationally grazed using beef steers.  Steers were rotated every 14-d, using variable stocking for 56 days during the springs of 2005-2007.  Pre-grazing and post-grazing quadrates were taken every 14-d to estimate herbage mass.  Pre-grazing herbage mass did not differ for pasture species (P = 0.21).  There were year x date (P < 0.0001) and year x treatment (P = 0.0002) interactions, which are likely due to the droughty conditions experienced during the spring of 2006 and 2007 and physiological maturity between the two pasture species.  The CHY pastures were significantly higher in protein and digestibility and lower in fiber than the ARG pastures, which is most likely related to species differences.  However, pasture species (ARG: 1.18 kg d-1 vs. CHY: 1.16 kg d-1) did not affect ADG (P= 0.73).  There were year (P = 0.0032), date (P < 0.0001), and year x date (P = 0.0056) differences for average daily gain (ADG).  These differences are probable due to environmental conditions and the increasing maturity of the pastures during the late spring.  These results indicate that CHY may be a viable option to ARG in stocker cattle operations.