In the Northern Great Plains, barley grain may be a more economical source of energy than hay. An experiment was conducted at South Dakota State University Cottonwood Research Station to determine the efficacy of limit-fed, barley-based diets as an alternative to alfalfa hay for beef cows in late gestation. Ninety-six gestating, crossbred cows (age 3 to 11 years; average calving date of May 7) were stratified by age and weight and randomly assigned to one of 12 pens (8 cows/pen). Pens were randomly allotted to one of three winter feeding treatments (4 pens/treatment) from January 15 to April 10, 2003. Treatments were: 1) course-ground alfalfa hay (Hay; fed at approximately 1.6% of BW); 2) dry rolled barley replacing alfalfa hay at 29% of the diet dry matter (Low Barley; fed at approximately 1.4% of BW); and 3) dry rolled barley replacing alfalfa hay at 67% of the diet dry matter (High Barley; fed at approximately 1.2% of BW). All diets were formulated using the 1996 NRC computer model to provide for maintenance of body condition score. A supplement (0.5 lb/d) supplied adequate protein, minerals, vitamins, and 200 mg/hd/d of Rumensin. Rations changed monthly to account for changing cow requirements during late gestation. All diets were consumed within a two-hour period each day. Treatment means were separated using orthogonal contrasts (Hay vs. High and Low Barley; High Barley vs. Low Barley). Cows fed barley gained more weight than cows fed Hay (P < 0.01; weight change of 79, 126, and 132 lb for Hay, Low Barley, and High Barley, respectively). Cows fed barley also gained more body condition than cows fed Hay (P < 0.01; body condition score change of -0.10, 0.24, and 0.38 for Hay, Low Barley, and High Barley, respectively). There were no differences (P > 0.10) in weight or body condition score change between Low and High Barley treatments. There were no differences between treatments in subsequent pregnancy rates (P > 0.50). Rolled barley can be used to replace alfalfa hay in diets for gestating beef cows.
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South Dakota State University
Copyright © 2004 South Dakota State University
Ward, Earl H.; Patterson, Hubert H.; and Pruitt, Richard J., "Response of Gestating Beef Cows to Limit-Fed Diets Containing Rolled Barley" (2004). South Dakota Beef Report, 2004. 11.