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Forage Quality of Annual Forage Legumes tested in High Prairie

Written by: Buthaina Al-Maqtari & Akim Omokanye,

Location: Bill Fevang's Farm - High Prairie

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2019 Annual Report


The information provided from this trial is intended to familiarize livestock producers with the variety of annual forage legume feeds available for various alternative feeds. In the Peace Country region, several new or alternative annual forage crops are now available to producers but evaluations on their adaption and beef cattle nutritional suitability are still needed. PCBFA preliminary trials and demonstrations in the last few years have shown that many annual crops are suitable for inclusion in cocktail mixtures for forage production (grazing, silage or greenfeed) and to improve soil health. This year, we seeded a variety of annual forage type legumes for forage production (yield) and quality.

Methods

The study site was at Bill Fevang’s farm in High Prairie. The site had canola in 2018 and it was sprayed with a pre-seed burnoff before seeding in 2019.

The plots were replicated 4 times in a randomized complete block design.


The following annual legumes were seeded:

1. Frosty Berseem Clover - seeded at 15 lbs/acre

2. Subterranean Clover - seeded at 20 lbs/acre

3. Liscard Peas - 8.33 plants/ft2

4. 40-10 Peas - 8.33 plants/ft2

5. Chickling Vetch - seeded at 60 lbs/acre

6. Crimson Clover - seeded at 15 lbs/acre

7. Fenugreek - seeded at 22 lbs/acre

8. Horizon peas - 8.33 plants/ft2

9. Faba Beans - 4 plants/ft2

10. Frontier Balansa - seeded at 6 lbs/acre

11. Laser Brand Persian - seeded at 15 lbs/acre

12. Fixation Balansa - seeded at 6 lbs/acre

13. Meadow Peas - 8.33 plants/ft2

14. Jasper Peas - 8.33 plants/ft2

Seeding date was on June 7.

The seeds were sown using a Fabro plot drill equipped with disc-type openers on 9” row spacing. Six rows that were 8 m long were sown per plot. Seeding depth was 0.75”.

Fertility (actual lbs/acre): 60 lbs/acre of 11-52-0 was applied to all treatments.

In-crop herbicide application was with Basagran Forte for both monocrops and intercrops.


Harvesting for forage dry matter (DM) yield determination and quality analysis was completed on August 28. Forage samples were sent to A & L Laboratory in Ontario for quality determination.

Results

Forage Quality (Table 1)

The legume tested in this study generally produced high crude protein (CP) values, with Faba Bean producing a significantly higher CP value (26.75%CP) than the other varieties tested. All forage legumes exceeded the required protein for young and mature beef cattle.

The total digestible nutrients (TDN) produced in this study ranged between a high of 68% TDN produced by Liscard peas and a low of 51% TDN produced by Jasper peas. Except for Meadow Peas and Liscard Peas which produced a 66% TDN and 68% TDN respectively, all legumes tested in this study fell short of meeting the required 65% TDN for lactating cows. Jaspar Peas and 40-10 peas produced low TDN level (below 55%TDN) which is not sufficient for either young or mature beef cattle.

In a similar trend as % TDN values, Liscard peas and Meadow peas produced higher net energy for maintenance (NEM) and net energy for gain (NEG) than all other forage legumes. All forage legumes in this study exceeded the recommended NEM and NEG for both young and mature cattle beef.

Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) and Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) levels impact the animals digestibility and energy levels. NDF value predicts intake, the higher the NDF value the lower the forage animals consumption is. ADF relates to digestibility and a higher ADF value means lower digestibility energy. The highest ADF and NDF values were produced by crimson clover, and the lowest values were produced by Liscard peas and Meadow peas.

Mineral nutrients are vital for animal performance and productivity. Most forage legumes tested in this study produced high forage macro-minerals (Ca, P, K, Mg, Na, S) that are in most cases exceeded the levels required for young and mature cattle.

Trace or Macro nutrients (Cu, Fe, Zn and Mn), forage legume produced high Zn and Fe levels that met the recommended levels for young and mature beef cattle, except for Fe level in Frosty Berseem clover. Most forage legume tested produced adequate Cu levels for mature and young cattle, other than Liscard peas , Horizon Peas, Meadow Peas, Fenugreek and Fixation Balansa clover. Among the forage legumes tested, only Subterranean Clover, Chickling Vetch, Faba bean, Frontier Balansa and Laser Brand Persian met the required 40 ppm Mn level for dry gestating and lactating cows.

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