Weight gains of meat goat kids on wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) pastures fertilized at different nitrogen levels
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Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) pastures are increasingly being used for cool-season forages to complement range-based goat production systems in southern USA. Because goats are more selective than cattle, ideal nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates already established for wheat grazed by cattle may be different for goats. Weight gains of Boer X Spanish doe kids (average 17 kg) as well as forage yields and crude protein (CP), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and acid detergent lignin (ADL) concentrations were measured for two winter seasons on replicated wheat paddocks fertilized with 0, 56, 112 and 224 kg N/ha per season in split autumn/spring applications at Stephenville, TX, USA. Animals were stocked in the pasture at 20 head/ha from January to April 2003 (478 mm rainfall from September to March) and 2004 (355 mm rainfall). Available forage ranged from 50 to 200 kg/ha in January and from 2300 to 6300 kg/ha in April in the 0 and 224 kg N/ha paddocks, respectively. Crude protein dry matter (DM) concentration ranged from 25 to 34% (0 and 224 kg N/ha, respectively) in January, but down to 13 and 22% across treatments in April. Average daily gains (ADG) over the 90-day trial were similar both years, 68 g per head per day for the 0 N treatment and undifferentiated among the fertilized paddocks, all near 90 g per head per day. Results indicate that N fertilizer rates above 56 kg/ha per season do not increase ADG/kid, but will increase ADG/ha if stocking rates are adjusted for forage production. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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