Regional Silage Variety Trials: 2. Oat Varieties

Trial Site: Fairview Research Farm

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2017 Annual Report


In the Peace Country, oats have become a reliable source of conserved forage for over-wintering beef cattle. There is a need for continued local testing (for agronomic adaptation, forage yield and quality, and animal performance) as new crop varieties become available. The Regional Silage Variety Trials (RSVTs) are replicated province wide and they are an important source of information for forage-based livestock production regarding the forage yield potential and quality performance of new crop varieties as they become available. The RSVTs are carried out in small plot replicated trials. PCBFA’s yearly trials provide unbiased, comprehensive information that assists producers to make better crop choices for silage or greenfeed production. The results from this site and other parts of the province will also be reported in the Alberta Seed Guide (www.seed.ab.ca).


Objective

The objective of this study was to identify oat varieties with superior forage yield and feed quality for beef cattle production, when grown in the Peace Region of Alberta.


Methods

  • Project Site: Fairview Research Farm (NW5-82-3W6) on RR #35, MD of Fairview.

  • Previous Crop: Alfalfa for over 10 years before spraying out in 2016 (chemical fallow)

  • Site Soil Information (0-6” depth): Soil tests done at Exova laboratory (Edmonton) prior to seeding showed pH = 5.8 and soil organic matter = 7.0%.

  • The field was cultivated (disked and harrowed) before seeding.

  • Experimental Design: Randomized complete block design in 4 replications.

Treatments (oat varieties): Nine (9) oat varieties tested are listed below:

1. CDC Baler (Check)

2. AC Juniper

3. Waldern

4. CDC SO-I

5. AC Morgan

6. Murphy

7. AC Mustang

8. CDC Haymaker

9. CDC Seabiscuit

  • Seeding Rate: 300 plants/m2 (27.8 plants/ft2 )

  • Seeding method: 6-row Fabro plot drill with 9” row spacing

  • Seeding Date: May 30

  • Fertility (actual lbs/acre): 89 N + 50 P + 29 K + 24 S

  • Plot size: 11.04 m2 (118.8 ft2 )

  • Spraying: In-crop spraying was done once with Curtail M (800 ml/acre) + Fluroxyoyr (170ml/ acre)

  • Measurements taken at milk stage on August 10: height, lodging, forage yield & forage quality

Results and Interpretation

Forage Dry Matter (DM) Yield (Table 1)

The forage DM yield differed significantly between oat varieties tested here. The top 4 varieties tested (CDC Seabiscuit, CDC Haymaker, AC Morgan and AC Mustang) had forage DM yields of 6086-6391 lbs DM/acre. CDC Baler appeared to produce the lowest forage DM yield value in this study.


Forage Quality (Table 1)

Crude Protein (CP): The forage CP content varied from 8.8% for AC Mustang to 10.6% for CDC Baler. Generally, the forage CP values obtained here were adequate for a dry gestating beef cow, which requires 7% CP in the mid-pregnancy stage and 9% CP when in the late-pregnancy stage. For a mature lactating beef cow, which requires 11% CP, oat varieties fell short of meeting the protein needed.

Minerals: With the exception of forage Ca content, all minerals (macro & trace) had similar values for all oat varieties. Waldern oat variety had the highest forage Ca content (0.31% Ca), while CDC Seabiscuit gave the least forage Ca content (0.24% Ca).


In terms of macro mineral requirements for mature beef cattle, all oat varieties tested here were only able to meet the Ca (0.18% Ca) and P (0.16% P) requirements of a dry gestating mature beef cow. None of the oat varieties tested had enough forage Ca & P for a lactating beef cow.


All oat varieties tested here exceeded the K, Mg, Na & S requirements of mature beef cattle.


Except for forage Cu content, which was below 5.00 ppm, all trace minerals measured here were adequate for mature beef cattle.


Detergent Fibres & Non-Fibre Carbohydrates (NFC): All oat varieties had similar acid detergent fibre (ADF), neutral detergent fibre (NDF) and NFC contents. It is important to note that CDC SO-I seemed to fare better than other varieties because of its lower ADF & NDF and higher NFC values. Lower values of NDF and ADF and higher NFC values are preferred.


Energy: The forage total digestible nutrients (TDN) and other forms of energy (NEL , NEG & NEM) measured here all showed similar values for the tested oat varieties. CDC SO-I oat however, appeared to also fare better than other varieties in terms of forage energy contents.


All oat varieties tested had adequate TDN for a dry gestating beef cow, which needs 55% TDN at the second -trimester and 60% TDN at third-trimester. For a lactating beef cow, which requires 65% TDN, only CDC SO-I met and even exceeded the TDN requirement. .


All oat varieties had more than the recommended NEM for mature beef cattle (1.19-1.28 Mcal/kg) and for growing and finishing calves. (1.08-2.29 Mcal/kg).


Conclusion

All oat varieties had adequate forage CP and TDN for a dry gestating beef cow. CDC SO-I seemed to be slightly better in terms of forage quality than others. Due to their slightly higher forage yield potential, CDC Haymaker, AC Mustang, AC Morgan and CDC Seabiscuit could be the best oats out of the 9 tested here.

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