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The Midwest Cattleman · August 20, 2020 · P2
          Tall Fescue for Grazing Livestock:

         Researchers Look to Improve Nutrition

       By Mike Trammell, Senior Plant Breeder
        and Carolyn Young, Ph.D., Professor
         Pastures dominated by pe-
      rennial grass species form the
      base of animal/forage produc-
      tion systems worldwide and
      are vital to their economic
      sustainability.  Tall fescue is
      a persistent cool-season pe-       right) tall fescue cultivar leaf  determine if soft-leaf tall fes-   after 24 hours of grazing in a
      rennial grass widely grown in      traits in order to develop the  cue represents a unique set of       trial at Ardmore, Oklahoma.
      the southern United States.        next generation of forages.        individuals within the tall fes-  Tall Fescue Available Now
      However, its nutritional value        Therefore, we have decided  cue species.                             Mike  Trammell and Caro-
      is lower than ideal for many       to tackle this problem by first      Identifying     the    specific  lyn Young, Ph.D., have worked
      livestock enterprises. This pro-   exploring the mechanisms, or       traits that determine leaf soft-  together on tall fescue breed-
      vides us with an opportunity to    traits that determine leaf soft- ness will help Noble’s breeding     ing  for  14  years,  releasing
      improve tall fescue as a forage    ness and nutrition in tall fes- program in the development           two successful tall fescue cul-
      for grazing livestock.             cue varieties.                     of next-generation tall fescue    tivars:  Texoma MaxQ II and
         In the U.S., most tall fes-        The specific aims of our proj- varieties with improved forage     Chisholm.
      cue varieties are considered       ect are to:                        quality and palatability.  The       Texoma MaxQ II contains
      to have a coarse leaf texture,        •Develop protocols to char- new varieties will contribute         a nontoxic novel endophyte
      which reduces an animal’s de-      acterize the physical differ- to the sustainability and prof-        and is adapted to areas east of
      sire to graze and ultimately re-   ences  and  tensile  strength  of  itability of livestock production   the I-35 corridor in Oklahoma
      sults in lower forage consump-     leaves in various types of tall  systems throughout the south-       and  Texas.  Seeds  are  avail-
      tion and weight gains. Soft-leaf   fescue that range in leaf soft- ern U.S. and similar agricul-        able through Pennington Seed
      tall fescue varieties are pre-     ness.                              tural environments through-       Company in Madison, Georgia.
      ferred by cattle and have been        •Compare the dynamics of  out the world. It will also allow          Chisholm is adapted to
      associated with increased ani-     leaf structure, yield, crude pro- other  plant  breeders  to  effi-  the drier climate west of I-35.
      mal performance, but these va-     tein, digestibility and water  ciently and effectively use the       Seeds are available through
      rieties cannot withstand harsh     soluble carbohydrates of tall  traits  in  their  own  breeding      Warner Brothers Seed Compa-
      weather conditions across the      fescue varieties that differ in  programs.                           ny in Lawton, Oklahoma.
      southern U.S.                      leaf softness.  We’ll be looking     Figure 2. Preference by cat-
         Figure 1. The plant breeding    at coarse-leaf cultivars and  tle of commercial soft leaf tall
      teams at Noble Research Insti-     hybrids of coarse- and soft-leaf  fescue cultivar over traditional
      tute are comparing soft, hybrid    germplasm (figure 1).              coarse leaf types (the plot be-
      and coarse leaf (from left to         •Use genetic screening to  tween the two soft leaf plots)

         Figure 1                                                               Figure 2
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