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Nitrogen fertilization and supplementation effects on performance of beef heifers grazing limpograss

Lima, G.F. da C., Sollenberger, L.E., Kunkle, W.E., Moore, J.E., Hammond, A.C.
Crop science 1999 v.39 no.6 pp. 1853-1858
beef cows, Hemarthria altissima, heifers, nitrogen, nitrogen fertilizers, feed supplements, corn, urea, protein supplements, nitrogen content, seasonal variation, liveweight gain, feed intake, crop management, crude protein, in vitro digestibility, blood chemistry, nutrient deficiencies, corn gluten meal, blood meal, application rate, Florida
Seasonally low N concentrations in 'Floralta' limpograss [Hemarthria altissima (Poir.) Stapf & C.E. Hubb.] limit intake and weight gain of growing animals. This research evaluated management alternatives for increasing summer weight gains of beef replacement heifers (Bos spp.) on limpograss pastures in Florida. Soils were sandy, siliceous, hyperthermic, aeric (Smyrna series) or ultic (Pomona series) Haplaquods. During 1992 and 1993, a factorial arrangement of two pasture N fertilization rates (50 and 150 kg ha(-1)) and three diet supplements (NONE, corn [Zea mays L.] plus urea [CU], and CU plus rumen undegradable protein [CUUP]) were studied in two replications of a completely randomized design. Supplementation with CU increased average daily gain (ADG) from 0.06 (NONE) to 0.41 kg on pastures fertilized with 50 kg N ha(-1), but there was no ADG response to CU when N rate was 150 kg ha(-1). When no supplement was fed, increasing pasture N fertilization from 50 to 150 kg ha(-1) increased ADG from 0.06 to 0.36 kg. Grass crude protein (CP; 73 vs. 56 g kg(-1)) and in vitro organic matter digestion (IVOMD; 542 vs. 509 g kg(-1))were greater at the higher N rate. Heifer plasma urea N (PUN) concentration was low (4.2 mg dL(-1)) when no supplement was fed and pastures received 50 kg N ha(-1), suggesting that low CP was limiting ADG. These data indicate that N deficiencies of cattle grazing limpograss can be overcome by increasing rate of pasture N fertilization or by providing N supplements.