Your local link to MU for ag extension and research information

To send a message to an author, click on the author's name at the end of the article.

Volume 7, Number 8 - August 2001

This Month in Ag Connection

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Get The Most Out Of Fescue

Farmer by a barn

If you are not stockpiling fescue, winter-feeding costs may be eating away at your profits. Mark Kennedy, State Grassland Specialist with NRCS, calculated costs of feeding hay at $0.57/cow/day vs. grazing stockpiled fescue at a cost of $0.23/cow/day.

Concerns expressed by producers include endophyte levels and the quality of the forage. Endophyte effects on animal performance is reduced during fall grazing due to cooler temperatures and lack of seed and stem production. NRCS and University of Missouri data confirms that fescue fertilized in August can have crude protein levels of up to 20 percent in October. Protein levels tend to drop about 2 percent each month afterwards.

Tips To Enhance Your Winter Supply of Fescue

  • Start with pastures grazed or clipped to only 3-6 inches of stubble in late August. Delaying initiation of stockpiling will result in higher quality forage though yields may be lower.
  • Apply 40-60 pounds of nitrogen in late August.
  • Insure adequate pH and phosphorus and potash levels prior to stockpiling.
  • Start grazing no later than mid-December.
  • Stockpile one acre per cow. Forty percent more grazing days can be obtained by strip-grazing cattle on stockpiled fescue in 3-day versus 14-day allotments, potentially providing 75 to 90 days of feed.

(Author: Tim Schnakenberg, Agronomy Specialist)

This Month in Ag Connection] Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Black Steer

Performance of Steers on Birdsfoot Trefoil and Tall Fescue Pastures

The advantages of adding legumes to grasses are well documented. A 1998 Kentucky study in which 6 lbs. of red clover seed per acre was added to tall fescue increased yield more than the addition of 180 lb./ac of nitrogen (11,100 vs. 9,900 lbs./ac). Trials in Georgia and Washington demonstrated adding clover to endophyte infected tall fescue pastures increased average daily gains of steers.

One concern with adding legumes is that most can cause bloat in grazing animals when managed improperly. Birdsfoot trefoil does not cause a grazing animal to bloat, which is a tremendous advantage over all other legumes. This perennial legume can be used for hay, pasture and silage production. When pure stands of birdsfoot trefoil have been grazed, animal performance has shown to be equal to or greater than that of alfalfa.

Persistence of birdsfoot trefoil in pastures has been a problem in Missouri with 90% of stands being lost by year 2 regardless of management. There are at least 2 major contributors to this loss. First being crown and root rot causing death of the plant and second is the inability of the plant to set and drop seed. Seed set is a common problem with legumes and is often related to grazing management.

USDA researchers have developed a new variety of birdsfoot trefoil 'ARS-2622' which has the ability to spread by rhizomes. This variety is less dependent upon seed to maintain a stand. A recently completed study at the University of Missouri South Farm compared the performance of steers grazing five pasture treatments of birdsfoot trefoil and tall fescue combinations including 'ARS-2622'. The treatments were:

  1. Pure stand of birdsfoot trefoil rhizome variety (ARS-2622).
  2. Pure stand of birdsfoot trefoil non-rhizome variety (Norcen).
  3. 'ARS-2622' interseed into 'Phyter' endophyte-free tall fescue.
  4. 'Norcen' interseed into 'Phyter' endophyte-free tall fescue.
  5. Pure stand of Phyter endophyte-free tall fescue.

Pastures were established in 1997 and grazed in the spring of 1998 and 1999; and in the fall of 1998 (Table 1). Yearling crossbred Angus steers were used for the spring grazing in 1998 and 1999 respectively. Weaned calves approximately 7 months of age were used for the fall grazing in 1998. Prior to the start of each grazing period, steers were implanted, dewormed, and vaccinated. Table 1 gives the results of forage production and animal performance for tall fescue (TF), Norcen (BFT) and ARS-2622 (RBFT) birdsfoot trefoil, and tall fescue and birdsfoot trefoil mixtures.

Table 1
Forage production and animal performance for tall fescue (TF), Norcen (BFT) and ARS-2622 (RBFT) birdsfoot trefoil, and tall fescue and birdsfoot trefoil mixtures.
Treatment ADG lb d-1 Animal days d acre-1 Stocking Rate
head acre-1
Total weight gain
lb acre-1
Total forage production
lb acre -1
Spring 1998 5/11-7/1
BFT 3.37b 117.1b 3.0b 377.9b 3,239a
RBFT 2.84b 88.9a 2.4a 251.2a 3,882a
BFT+TF 2.05a 178.7d 3.6c 362.3b 10,059b
RBFT+TF 2.05a 174.8d 3.7c 355.7b 9,648b
TF 1.61a 146.5c 3.0b 235.9a 8,656b
Fall 1998 9/22-11/17
BFT+TF 1.52a 149.6c 2.6c 222.9c 8,242b
RBDT+TF 1.50a 129.4b 2.3b 194.0b 6,539a
TF 1.45a 109.8a 1.9a 156.3a 6,003a
Spring 1999 4/19-7/15
BFT 2.77c 138.1a 2.0b 382.7b 5,046b
RBFT 3.15d 116.7a 1.7a 366.5ab 2,561a
BFT+TF 1.80b 237.7b 2.7c 424.4b 9,686c
RBFT +TF 1.80b 220.2b 2.5c 399.0b 7,858c
TF 1.43a 219.0b 2.6c 312.6a 8,682c
* Values within the same column with different superscripts differ at P<0.10

Data show that ADG for steers grazing pure stands of birdsfoot trefoil was significantly greater than for other treatments in the spring. Addition of birdsfoot trefoil to tall fescue increased total forage production in comparison to pure tall fescue but differences were typically non-significant (P>0.10). Higher stocking rates were noted (P<0.10) for the birdsfoot trefoil mixtures than for the pure birdsfoot trefoil paddocks.

Greater steer performance was partially attributed to higher forage quality (Table 2) better forage selectivity and greater forage dry matter degradation in the rumen.

Table 2
Forage quality and botanical component for tall fescue (TF), Norcen (BFT) and ARS-2622 (RBFT) birdsfoot trefoil, and tall fescue and birdsfoot trefoil mixtures.
Treatment NDF% ADF% CP% Botanical component
% birdsfoot trefoil
Spring 1998
BFT 58.4a 38.1a 17.5c 100c
RBFT 57.3a 38.5a 16.4c 100c
BFT+TF 69.5b 40.7ab 12.5b 32b
RBFT+TF 72.7c 44.8b 11.2b 31b
TF 74.7c 44.1b 9.1a 0a
Fall 1998
BFT+TF 63.2a 38.1a 14.8c 19b
RBFT+TF 64.9a 38.3a 13.1b 8a
TF 69.1b 41.9b 10.9a 0a
Spring 1999
BFT 50.3a 39.4a 16.8c 100d
RBFT 50.3a 37.0a 15.8c 100d
BFT+TF 60.7b 37.3a 13.1b 14c
RBFT+TF 64.7c 39.6a 11.4a 9b
TF 64.9c 39.2a 10.9a 0a
* Values within the same column with different superscripts differ at P<0.05.

Crude protein values were higher (P<0.05) for birdsfoot trefoil and mixtures than tall fescue with the exception of the RBFT+TF treatment in the spring 1999 grazing. It should be noted that for this treatment the amount of birdsfoot trefoil consumed had dropped from 31% to 9%. In the study, the proportion of birdsfoot trefoil in the mixed pasture decreased by 56% and 71% in the BFT+TF and RBFT+TF pastures, respectively, from spring of 1998 to spring of 1999.

The study concluded that birdsfoot trefoil improved performance of steers when interseeded in tall fescue pastures. No difference between 'ARS-2622' and Norcen in enhancing performance of steers grazing mixed pastures was noted. The improved performance of steers grazing mixed pastures of birdsfoot trefoil and tall fescue was based on the higher quality and greater digestibility of forage selected by steers.


This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online


Taxation Tidbits: Estate & Gift Tidbits -- Economic Growth & Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001

Unified credit applicable exclusion for federal estate tax increases to:

2002 2004 2006 2009
$1,000,000 $1,500,000 $2,000,000 $3,500,000

Under the 2001 Act, no change in income tax basis (step-up) at death is made until repeal of the federal estate tax, effective for deaths after 2009. In general, the Act allows the executor to increase the income tax basis in eligible assets up to a total of $1,300,000. Property transferred to a surviving spouse can be increased an additional $3,000,000.

In no event can the basis of an asset be increased above its fair market value.

The income tax exclusion on the sale of the principal residence ($250,000, $500,000 on a joint return) is extended to estates and heirs.

The 2001 Act provides for the repeal of federal estate tax for one year (2010).

(Author: Parman R. Green, UO&E Farm Business Management Specialist)

This Month in Ag Connection | Ag Connection - Other Issues Online

Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.