Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 81–93 | Cite as

Hair sheep performance in a mid-stage deciduous Appalachian silvopasture

  • A. G. Fannon
  • J. H. FikeEmail author
  • S. P. Greiner
  • C. M. Feldhake
  • M. A. Wahlberg


Silvopastoral management has potential to diversify and increase the output from livestock systems. Silvopastures offer solutions to many management issues associated with grazing systems in Appalachia (USA). Several tree species have been proposed for silvopastures in humid temperate regions, but few data comparing animal performance from systems with different deciduous tree species are available. The objective of this project was to compare early-stage honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) or black walnut (Juglans nigra) silvopastures with open pastures in terms of forage botanical composition, yield, and nutritive value, and in terms of gain, carcass characteristics, and meat quality of hair sheep (Ovis aries) that grazed these systems. Forage and animal performance from open systems (i.e., no trees) was compared with that from silvopastures containing 13- and 14-year-old honeylocust or black walnut trees. Cool-season grass-legume pastures were rotationally stocked with crossbred hair sheep from mid-June through September in 2008 and 2009. Forage production varied by year and pre-graze forage mass in black walnut silvopastures generally was less (P ≤ 0.05) than in open pastures at most measurement periods. Averaged over the season, forage production in honeylocust silvopastures tended (P = 0.0937) to be lower than in open systems in 2008 and was lower (P = 0.0001) in 2009. Few differences in forage nutritive value among systems were observed. Total and average daily gains (ADG) did not differ among treatments in 2008, but black walnut silvopastures supported less (P ≤ 0.05) ADG and total gain than open pastures and honeylocust silvopastures in 2009. Carcass characteristics evaluated did not vary among treatments although hot carcass weights were lower (P < 0.05) for lambs that grazed black walnut silvopastures. Although walnut-based systems were less productive and will need modification to improve output, similar levels of performance between open pastures and honeylocust systems show the potential of silvopasture systems to supply multiple products from the land base without reducing agricultural system production.


Black walnut Honeylocust Cool-season forage Carcass characteristics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Cooperative ExtensionJonesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Crop and Soil Environmental SciencesVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Animal and Poultry SciencesVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  4. 4.USDA-ARSBeaverUSA

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