Performance of steers raised on pastures of Elephant and Mombasa grasses

Carolina de Souza Garcia Alberto Magno Fernandes Carlos Augusto de Alencar Fontes Ricardo Augusto Mendonça Vieira Nivaldo de Faria Sant'Ana Viviane Antunes Pimentel About the authors

The performance of steers raised on elephant and mombasa grass pastures was evaluated from October to December 2006. A rotational grazing system with a regulated forage offer was adopted. The experimental area consisted of two repetitions containing 18 0.25-ha paddocks divided into nine paddocks with elephant grass and nine with mombasa grass. Forage species, area repetition, the interaction among these effects, paddocks within the interaction, and the experimental error were the effects of the treatments. This model was used to analyze pasture attributes. For analyses of intake, digestibility and gain, 24 steers were randomly assigned to the respective interactions among forage vs. repetition vs. grazing system, totaling three animals per triple interaction. The grazing systems consisted of ad libitum (AL) and restricted (PR) grazing. Elephant-grass showed the highest total dry matter biomass (TB) and green leaf dry matter biomass (GLDM). There were no differences among forage plants for production of biomass of green leaf dry matter; leaf proportion was the greatest in mombasa grass, however. Extrusas showed similar bromatological composition. Only crude protein intake, which was the highest for mombasa pasture, differed among forage plants. Ad libitum feeding enabled a higher intake of all nutrients from both pastures. Digestibility of nutrients was higher for elephant-grass but it did not differ among feeding levels: only crude protein content was the highest on pasture where grazing was restrict and gross energy content of pasture was higher for ad libitum grazing system. Despite qualitative and quantitative differences among forage plants, differences of weight gain per animal and per area were not found. For animal with ad libitum feeding, average body mass gain was 850 g/day and gain per area was 246 kg/ha during the experimental period.

digestibility; growth

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