The Effects of Maturity on Range Quality and Animal Performance


Abstract: The objective of this study was to determine the effects of maturity on the range quality and weight gain of male and female lambs, and the time at which supplementation is needed. The experiment was conducted at TİGEM Altındere Agricultural experiment station. At the start of the grazing season, four 4-m^2 areas from 3 different (expected to be heavily grazed) locations of range were excluded from grazing with cages. Dry matter (DM) yield and DM loss due to grazing at different periods of the grazing season were determined from these areas. Forage samples were collected from grazed and ungrazed areas once every two weeks from the 2^{nd} week of May to the 2^{nd} week of August. Parallel to forage sampling, 20 male and female lambs (a total of 40 lambs) grazing on the pasture were weighed once every two weeks to determine daily weight gains. Dry matter yield, chemical composition (DM, OM, ash, CP, NDF, and ADF) and in vitro DM digestibility of range were determined. Dry matter, NDF and ADF concentrations of forages increased (P < 0.01) and crude protein content decreased (P < 0.01), but organic matter and ash concentrations did not change with increasing maturity. The effect of grazing on the parameters mentioned above was not significant, but increasing maturity significantly affected DM digestibility and DM yields (P < 0.01). At the start of the experiment, DM digestibilities for grazed and ungrazed areas were 69.70 and 69.25%; they declined to 42.45 and 43.45% at the 7^{th} sampling, respectively. Dry matter yields for grazed and ungrazed areas were 54.69 and 69.64 for the 1^{st} sampling, 81.88 and 120.54 for the 2^{nd} sampling, 50.55 and 111.74 for the 3^{rd} sampling, 59.10 and 97.13 for the 4^{th} sampling, 32.82 and 78.81 for the 5^{th} sampling, 38.06 and 67.61 for the 6^{th} sampling, and 26.96 and 52.65 kg/da for the 7^{th} sampling, respectively (P < 0.01). Digestible DM yields for grazed and ungrazed areas were 37.82 and 48.12 for the 1^{st} sampling, 51.50 and 78.41 for the 2^{nd} sampling, 28.29 and 58.50 for the 3^{rd} sampling, 30.15 and 48.18 for the 4^{th} sampling, 16.12 and 37.65 for the 5^{th} sampling, 17.76 and 31.56 for the 6^{th} sampling, and 11.96 and 24.10 kg/da for the 7^{th} sampling, respectively (P < 0.01). Both DM and digestible DM yields were also affected by grazing (P < 0.01). Weight gains, determined parallel to forage sampling, during the 2^{nd}, 3^{rd} , and 4^{th} periods were high (228, 263, and 182 g/d for male, and 252, 194, and 184 g/d for female lambs, respectively), but were very low after the 4^{th} period. It is concluded that the range can meet the nutrient requirements of lambs for optimal weight gain during May and June, but lambs require an extra supplementation for optimal weight gain after June under Northern Anatolian conditions.

Keywords: Maturity, Range quality, Live weight gain

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