Lamb productivity on stockpiled fescue in honeylocust and black walnut silvopastures
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Trees in silvopastures can provide forage-livestock systems with multiple goods and services, including shade, shelter, and browse, but the provision of browse has received little exploration in temperate systems. Honeylocust trees (Gleditsia triacanthos) produce nutritious pods that could serve as supplemental fodder for livestock grazing stockpiled tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus). This study compared lamb performance in honeylocust (cv. Millwood) and black walnut (Juglans nigra) silvopastures with productivity on open pastures during a six week winter grazing trial. Treatment pastures were rotationally stocked with three (walnut) or six (honeylocust and open) lambs per experimental unit based on forage availability. Lambs were naïve to pods and did not readily consume the fodder until four weeks into the trial. Forage availability did not differ (P = 0.7580) between honeylocust silvopastures and open pastures (mean = 5090 ± 90 kg ha−1) but was greater (P < 0.0001) than forage availability in the black walnut silvopastures (3790 ± 90 kg ha−1). Average daily gains did not differ (P = 0.3763) among treatments over the six weeks of study. However, lambs within the honeylocust silvopastures began consuming pods at about week four of the study and had greater (P = 0.0251) average daily gains in the final period (0.12 ± 0.02 kg day−1) than lambs within the open pastures (0 ± 0.02 kg day−1). These data suggest that honeylocust pods may support greater lamb weight gains, but previous exposure and longer study periods may be necessary to see their nutritional benefit when grazing high quality forages.
KeywordsFodder Honeylocust Sheep Silvopasture Stockpile Winter
The authors acknowledge Lina Godine and Sarah Kate Pent for assistance with lab and field work, Bradley Ellis and Dr. Chris Teutsch for assistance with forage nutritive value analysis, the Kentland field crew for assistance with site management, and Drs. Kevin Pelzer and Sierra Guynn and the Food Animal Field Service staff at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine for assistance with veterinary care. This work was supported by the John Lee Pratt Animal Nutrition Endowment, Virginia Tech; and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture [Grant Numbers GS14-130, LS13-255].
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