The unique relationship between TDN and CP concentration (low CP relative to TDN) in the whole-plant of Floralta' limpograss (Hemarthria altissima) may provide an opportunity for improving cattle performance through protein supplementation. In each of three consecutive years, yearling Brahman × British crossbred steers (initial weight approximately 270 kg) grazed limpograss during the summer and fall (five steers per ha, three pasture replications per treatment) and were fed liquid cane molasses-based supplements (1.4 kg DM daily) alone, or containing urea and(or) hydrolyzed poultry feather meal. In yr 1 and 2, protein supplementation did not influence ADG. In these years, pasture availability was in excess at all times, and visual observations indicated that the upper canopy contained abundant leaf. Pasture samples collected in a manner to simulate grazing had in vitro organic matter disappearance (IVOMD):CP ratios ranging from 6.5 to 8.1, and plasma urea nitrogen concentration in the blood of steers fed no supplemental protein was high (10.6 to 15.9 mg/dL), both not suggestive of a situation where providing a protein supplement might improve animal performance. In yr 3, ADG was improved (P < 0.05) by protein supplementation. Forage availability was in excess at the beginning of the trial but declined significantly as the trial progressed. At the end of the trial, forage IVOMD:CP ratio (11.1) and plasma urea nitrogen values of steers fed no protein supplement (6.6 mg/dL) were both suggestive of a situation where providing supplemental protein might improve animal performance. Grazing management of limpograss pasture can affect canopy composition, thereby influencing cattle response to protein supplementation. In cases where limpograss is moderately grazed resulting in abundant leaf in the grazed horizon, dietary energy:protein ratio can be balanced, and positive responses to protein supplementation may not be observed. Where limpograss is grazed more intensively resulting in greater quantities of stem in the upper pasture canopy, an imbalance of dietary protein (low) relative to energy can develop, increasing the opportunity for enhancing cattle performance through protein supplementation.
- Hemarthria altissima
- Supplementary Feeding