Incorporation of Triticale/Clover into Existing Grazing Management Systems to Enhance Beef Cattle Production Sustainability

Final Report for OS02-004

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2002: $967.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
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Project Information


A comparison of Triticale to more commonly used small grains for grazing showed that there is definitely some usefullness to Triticale as a part of a small grain forage system. It must be noted that there are definite differences between different varieties of Triticale as was shown in this test. Trical 2700 Triticale will produce more forage than Trical 336 in the fall. Furthermore Trical 2700 will have similar yields to rye, but it will retain its forage quality for a longer period of time than rye. It was found that Harrison Oats produced the highest forage yields during the entire test, but produced very little forage in the fall.


Many people involved in animal agriculture are aware of the amount of costs associated with maintaining a cow during the winter months. It has been proven that in a fall calving season the most of the cost incurred in one production year are incurred during the winter feeding months. This is due to the fact that hay and other stored or purchased feeds are much more expensive than forage that can be harvested by the cow during the warmer months. However, there are some producers that take advantage of some cool season annual grasses and legumes that extend the grazing season and reduce the amount of stored or purchased feed that is needed during those cooler months. The ideal situation would be one of a year round grazing season, but that particual situation has not been found at this time. Therefore, we are constantly looking for new cool season annuals that can extend the grazing season either on the front end in the fall and early winter, or on the back end, in the late winter and early spring. Thus, we decided to look at the benefits of incorporating a less commonly used annual cereal grain, called triticale into existing grazing management systems in Central Alabama. We know through university trials that triticale can germinate and produce forage as early or even earlier than rye, and rye is the most commonly used forage for early grazing. However, rye rapidly loses its nutritional quality as daylight hours begin to get longer in the early spring. This is when rye begins to joint and produce seedheads, and it ceases to produce much edible or digestible forage. Hence, the reason for evaluating some triticale varieties in this on-farm research trial.

We also wanted to look at the viability of adding clover to this trial as it could not only extend the grazing season, but also add to soil fertility as it fixes nitrogen in the late spring. Therefore, producers could also benefit from the need for less commercial fertilizer on the next crop as the clover would give some residual nitrogen. This would also be ecologically beneficial as it would reduce the risk of nitrogen runnoff into nearby streams.

We utilized acreage on three local farms in Autauga County Alabama to plant our plots for evaluation. These farms are all located near Autaugaville, Alabama. All of the plots were four and one-quarter acres in size. Each plot was planted on October 16th, 2002 and contained the following species: Trical 2700 Triticale, Trical 336 Triticale, Wrens Abruzzi Rye, Harrison Oats, Pioneer 2684 Wheat, Dixie Crimson Clover, and Cinnamon Red Clover.

Project Objectives:

The objective of this on-farm SARE research project was to show area beef and forage producers that they could substantially extend the grazing season in their cattle operations if they utilized some forages like triticale that they had previously overlooked. Furthermore, we wanted to show that triticale could produce as much forage as rye over the entire late fall, winter, and early spring months without losing forage quality as early as rye in the spring. The second objective was to show producers the environmental, and production benefits of adding clover to any existing cool season forage program. This would be shown in the residual nitrogen left by the clover in the late spring and the high quality of forage that would be produced by the clover in the latter part of the cool grazing season.


Materials and methods:

This particular SARE on-farm small grain for forage research trial was done on three farms located in Autauga County Alabama near the town of Autaugaville. Each of these farms is diversified in that they are all involved in beef cattle production, hay and forage production, and small grain production. The three farms were Autauga Farming Company, Gaines Farms, and Hallman Farms.
Each plot was planted on a prepared seedbed, and the plots were 4.25 acres in size. Each farm had one plot each. The plots were planted on October 16, 2002. All small grains (wheat, oats, rye, and triticale) were planted at a seeding rate of 120 pounds per acre. The clovers were planted at a seeding rate of 12 pound per acre. A color graph of each plot is attached to the hard copy.
The Autauga Farming Company Plot was fertilized prior to planting with 200 lbs./acre of 15-5-15 granular fertilizer along with 30 lbs./acre of Sulfur. Both the Gaines Farms and Hallman Farms plots were fertilized in late October with 200 lbs./acre Ammonium Nitrate.
We intended to clip each plot in mid-to late November or at least by mid December. However, due to the later planting date and prevailing weather conditions we decided to clip the plots for forage yield and quality data in early February. We could have clipped the Trical 2700 Triticale and Wrens Abruzzi Rye as early as late November, but decided to wait until all other species were ready.
When we did begin our clipping trial we randomly sampled each specie within each plot. The first clipping was taken at the Autauga Farming Company site on February 5, 2003. We then followed that clipping with a February 19th clipping at Gaines Farms. We had to abandon the Hallman Farms plot as it was totally destroyed by Whitetail Deer. We finished our clippings at the Autauga Farming company site with clippings on March 12th and March 27th. We were unable to clip the Gaines Farms plot a second or third time due to the fact that that farm needed to get that ground ready for cotton production; thus spraying the forage with glyphosate to kill it so that they could utilize the existing dry matter for organic material in which to plant their minimum till cotton.

Immediately after clipping the plots, the forage was dryed and weighed for dry matter production, and a representative sample was sent to the Auburn University Forage Testing Lab in order to obtain nutrient value information.
This information is compiled in the results of the demonstration and was made available to producers on two separate occasions.

Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.