Triticale Varieties for Swath Grazing

Trial Site: Fairview Research Farm Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2016 Annual Report

Swath grazing is one of the commonly used methods in the Peace to extend the field grazing season. Swath grazing eliminates the cost and time of baling or silaging. It also eliminates the cost of cleaning corrals and hauling manure from feedlots. In the Peace, oats are commonly used for swath grazing. Triticale is a dual-purpose cereal crop and it therefore has the potential to provide economic benefits for both grain and for-age based production systems. Studies have shown that when grown for forage production in dryland conditions, triticale has the potential to produce around 10 per cent more forage yield than barley and oats and its forage quality lies between barley and oats. When compared to general purpose/feed wheat or barley, triticale showed superior yields on marginal lands and in drought conditions. In 2016, we tested 5 spring triticale varieties for their suitability for swath grazing.


The study site was at the Fairview Research Farm (NW5-82-3W6) on RR #35, MD of Fairview. The site had soybeans in 2015. Soil test at 0-6” soil depth done at Exova laboratory (Edmonton) prior to seeding showed an organic matter content of 7.3%, a pH of 5.4 (acidic) and an electrical conductivity of 0.58 dS/m. The field was cultivated before seeding.

We used a randomized complete block design in 4 replications. Small plots measuring 11.04 m2 (118.8 ft2) were used. 5 spring triticale varieties (Tyndal, Sunray, Bunker, 94L043057 and Taza) were seeded at the rate of 370 plants/m2 (34.3 plants ft2) with a 6-row Fabro plot drill at 9” row spacing. Seeding was done on May 16.

For fertility (actual lbs/acre), 0 N + 33 P + 47 K + 0 S (broadcast) was applied. Soil test showed adequate amounts of N & S for the crop, so N & S were not applied.

Roundup WeatherMAX® was used as pre-emergent 7 days after seeding. In-crop spraying was done with 2, 4 - D 700 at 0.35 L/acre. Rouging was done a few times.

At the swath grazing stage (mid-dough), forage DM yield was estimated & the forage nutritional value was determined.

Results and Interpretation

Forage DM yield (Table 1)

The DM yield as percent of check (Taza) was highest for Bunker (120%), followed by Sunray (113%) and then Tyndal (109%). Only 94L043057 had less yield (85%) than Taza (check).


The forage crude protein (CP) was highest for Taza (check, 11.3% CP). A dry gestating cow in the mid-pregnancy stage requires 7% CP, and 9% CP at the late-pregnancy stage. Looking at the CP values obtained for the triticale varieties (Table 1), 94L043057, Taza (check) and Sunray had enough CP for a gestating cow. Bunker and Tyndal were just barely able to meet the 9% CP needed by a cow in the late-pregnancy stage. Out of the 5 triticale varieties tested here, only Taza had adequate CP for mature beef cattle. It is important to test the swath for nutritional value so as to be able to provide any form of protein supplementation if necessary (when CP is lower than 7%) during swath grazing of triticale. The supplementation could be a ran-dom placement of good alfalfa hay across the field.


The forage minerals (macro and trace) are shown in Table 2. None of the triticale varieties tested here had enough Ca, Na and Cu for a gestating cow. But all triticale varieties tested were able to meet the P, K, Mg, S, Fe, Zn and Mn requirements of a gestating cow in the mid-pregnancy stage. For a dry gestating cow in the late-pregnancy stage, only the requirements for K, S, Fe, Zn and Mg were met by all triticale varieties tested here. Because of the inconsistencies in minerals, it is recommended that mineral supplementation be provided to cows when using triticale for swath grazing.


The forage energy (%TDN) was generally >60% TDN (Table 3). All varieties tested here were therefore able to meet the TDN requirements of a gestating cow. For a lactating cow, which requires 65% TDN, all varieties (except for Bunker), met the 65% TDN requirement.

Detergent Fibers (ADF & NDF) and Non-fiber Carbohydrates (NFC) (Table 3)

The ADF values are important because they relate to the ability of an animal to digest the forage. As ADF increases, digestibility of forage usually decreases. The NDF values are important in ration formulation because they reflect the amount of forage the animal can consume. As NDF percentage increases, forage DM intake will generally decrease. Generally, NFC is more rapidly digested than fiber. It is a significant source of energy for the rumen microbes. The microbes also use NFC to make microbial protein. From the triticale varieties tested here, Sunray seems to fare slightly better than other varieties taking into consideration the ADF, NDF and NFC values.

Other forms of energy - Energy is probably the most important nutritional consideration in beef cattle production. A range of 0.90-1.32 Mcal kg.-1 NEM (net energy for maintenance) has been recommended for beef cows (NRC, 2000). The NEM is an estimate of the energy value of a feed used to keep an animal in energy equilibrium, i.e., neither gaining nor losing weight. Generally, all triticale varieties tested here exceeded the NEM requirements by mature beef cattle during pregnancy and even after calving. The ability of all triticale varieties tested to be able to meet beef cows maintenance energy requirements is important to cow-calf producers in the Peace Region, particularly during winter, as this will mean a substantial savings in feed energy costs.


The high forage DM yields particularly for Bunker, Sunray and Tyndal, which all had >6.0 tons DM/acre (109-120% of check) along with the fact that all triticale varieties had CP values that were mostly within the 7-9% CP needed by a gestating beef cow, seem to suggest that any of the triticale varieties (except for 94L043057) can be grown in the Peace for the purpose of swath grazing. The triticale varieties were not consistent in meeting some of the mineral requirements of dry gestating and lactating cows. Because of these inconsistencies, some form of commercial mineral supplement would be required during swath grazing of these varieties.

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