Grasslands Matua and Grassland Gala in the Tennessee Valley as an Alternative to Fescue and Ryegrass
Soil erosion concerns and the desire of farmers to lower input costs have increased demand for new species and varieties of forage grasses. New forage species from New Zealand and from the western United States have been introduced, but research on their suitability for the southern United States is scarce.
Two exotic grasses (Grasslands Matua and Grasslands Gala) have been touted as alternatives to fescue and ryegrass. In addition, Gala is reputed to exhibit nearly 12 month growth in the south and withstand intense grazing with quick recovery.
The producer will test the suitability of the two grasses for his dairy operation in an effort to identify alternatives to ryegrass and fescue in the south.
1.) Determine if Bromus Willdenowii (kunth) prairie grass (Grasslands Matua) and Bromus Stamineus Desv. (Grasslands Gala) produce acceptable forage for dairy cows, especially during the hot and humid months.
2.) Determine if Grasslands Matua and Grasslands Gala can be used as an alternative to fescue and ryegrass.
The farmer will establish two acres each of Grasslands Matua and Grasslands Gala as well as corresponding plots of fescue and ryegrass. Four groups of approximately 10 cows will be grazed on the four plots i.e., one group each on Matua, Gala, ryegrass and fescue.
On a one- to two--week schedule he will take grass samples from all four plots. They will be analyzed for forage quality including protein content, macronutrients and some micronutrients. Percent butterfat, percent protein and total milk production from cows grazed on all four plots also will be analyzed. The grower will measure biomass since this will provide total production data and is the actual measure of what will be available to his cows.
At the end of the project the producer will prepare a publication of the project results. He will also conduct a tour stop for the local Cattleman’s Association fall field day to discuss the project and results. He will also disseminate project data when he attends other field days and meetings.