Maturity of coastal bermudagrass and alfalfa affects ruminal in situ and total tract dry matter and phosphorus disappearance in cannulated steers. Academic Article uri icon


  • Variability of phosphorus (P) availability among forage species and plant maturity is largely ignored when formulating ruminant diets. To determine if variability in P availability changes with forage species and/or maturity, ruminal in situ and total (ruminal+post-ruminal) dry matter (DM) and phosphorus disappearance (PD) from alfalfa (ALF; Medicago sativa) and coastal bermudagrass (CB; Cynodon dactylon) harvested at four stages of maturity was measured in cattle. Forages were hand clipped at 14, 21, 28 and 35 days after first cutting. Ruminal in situ DM disappearance (DMD) and PD were measured after 24 h ruminal incubation in Dacron bags. Total tract DMD and PD were measured using the mobile nylon bag technique. Disappearance of DM and P were greater (p0.05) in the rumen than post-rumen for both species regardless of maturity; however, 80 g PD/kg DM in 35-day ALF (9% of total PD) and 224 g PD/kg of 35-day CB (38% of total PD) occurred post ruminally. Alfalfa DM disappeared to a greater (p 0.05) extent than CB and showed 5% greater total tract PD at 14 days and 13% more at 35 days compared to the grass. Alfalfa total tract PD decreased (p 0.05) 5.4% from 14- to 35-day maturity while the decrease was far greater for CB, 12.4%. Results from this study indicate that ruminant nutritionists should take into account forage species and maturity when calculating PD in diets; these details can be used to aid in formulating more precise rations that reduce fecal-phosphorus excretion into the environment.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl)

author list (cited authors)

  • Riojas-McCollister, A. V., Lambert, B. D., & Muir, J. P.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Riojas-McCollister, AV||Lambert, BD||Muir, JP

publication date

  • April 2011