Overseeding cowpeas or mung beans improves summer pasture nutritive value

Kun-Jun Han  |  6/12/2012 1:04:44 AM

Photo 1: Pod-developed mung bean interseeded in a pure stand bahiagrass pasture. Photo was taken on September 19, 2008.

Photo 2. Grazing trial on mung bean and cowpea interseeded bahiagrass pasture at Tarver farm, Folsom, La. The paddock left of the red dotted line is post-grazed.

Summer annual legumes may be a forage option providing high protein and highly digestible nutrients to cattle during the hot Louisiana summer (Table 1).
 
Mung beans and cowpeas planted in late May were ready for use in September. Forage yield on a dry matter basis was around 5,000 pounds per acre. The crude protein in the forage was near 20%. Compared with pure stand warm-season grass pasture (protein content about 8% and digestibility around 50%), it is obvious that these annual-type, warm-season legumes provide excellent quality forage in a short growing season (less than three months).

A grazing study with calves on legume and bahiagrass pasture demonstrated approximately 1.5 pounds of daily gains per animal while pure bahiagrass pasture-fed cattle daily gains were 1.0 pound. Estimated forage utilization was up to 82%. Later in the growing season, the utilization was a little bit lower at 40% because of maturity.
 
Table 1. Nutrient content of pastures having different
vegetation.

Nutrient, % DM Cowpea Mung bean Bahiagrass
Protein 17 25 9
ADF 32 29 41
NDF 37 35 70
Digestibility 74 78 60

* protein as CP (crude protein, N x 6.25)
**Digestibility as IVTD (in vitro true digestibility)

Next posting will discuss estimated forage utilization of mung bean and cowpea interseeded paddock.

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