Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Animal Science


Grass is the greatest asset of the Northern Great Plains. Grass does and must serve as the basic feed for the flocks and herds of this area. Without grass, much of the Northern Great Plains would be waste land with little or no value. In the states of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, about 67 per cent of the total land is in pasture and hay. Seventy five to 95 per cent of the total feed needed by cattle and sheep in the Northern Plains states is furnished by pasture and roughage. With an ever-increasing demand for food and the need for greater efficiency of production, it is imperative that more complete and more accurate information be secured on the actual nutritive value of the native grasses of this area if maximum results are to be obtained in the utilization of these grasses. Efficient range management and range livestock production necessitates cutting and storing of prairie hay use during severe winters and in time of drought. In 1948, 2, 893,000 acres of prairie hay were harvested in South Dakota. Chemical analysis and limited digestibility studies of grasses of other areas have indicated that the feeding value and cash value of much of this hay is greatly affected by the stage of maturity at which it is harvested and the care that is taken in storing it. Chemical analysis made on South Dakota range grasses shows striking differences in chemical composition, particularly in regards to decreases in protein, as the stage of maturity progresses. However, the chemical composition does not give a reliable index of the nutritive value of the hay, partly because of differences in coefficients of apparent digestibility of the various organic nutrients and partly because of other differences such as palatibility, vitamins, and possibly reduction in mineral availability. This study was undertaken with the objective of gaining information on the comparative nutritive value of prairie hay cut at three stages of maturity as indicated by the apparent digestibility determined with lambs.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Hay as feed
Sheep -- Feeding and feeds


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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