Yield and nutritive value of ‘spring green’ Festulolium and ‘Jesup’ Endophyte-free tall Fescue stockpiled for winter pasture

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Pasture-based dairies in the Midwest have a difficult time providing high-quality pasture during winter. Little is known about the yield and nutritive value of festulolium when stockpiled for winter grazing compared to tall fescue. In this study, the yield and nutritive value of ‘Jesup’ endophyte-free tall fescue [Schedonorus phoenix (Scop.) Holub.] and ‘Spring Green’ festulolium [Festulolium loliaceum (Hudson) P.V. Fournier] were evaluated monthly from November to March over three years. The research was conducted near Mt. Vernon, MO, on a Gerald silt loam (fine, mixed, active, mesic Aeric Fragiaqualf). In two of the three years, stockpiled tall fescue out-yielded festulolium by as much as 930 kg ha–1. Both tall fescue and festulolium yields decreased over winter by approximately the same percentage; losses from November to March ranged from 32 to >75%. The nutritive value of stockpiled festulolium was consistently greater than stockpiled tall fescue during winter. Both stockpiled festulolium and tall fescue contain sufficient crude protein and total digestible nutrients at one times maintenance to maintain most small breed dairy cows during their dry period but would be severely lacking once lactation started. Despite the greater nutritive value of stockpiled Spring Green festulolium compared to Jesup tall fescue, the low forage yield of festulolium makes its use questionable for pasture-based dairies.

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