An Old Forage Makes A Come Back

This comes to us from the August 2015 issue of the Agriculture Research Service's AgResearch Magazine and was written by Dennis O'Brien. I've added some additional information to the original article. A forgotten forage grass imported from Europe in the 1800s could soon be helping to boost cattle and dairy production. The grass, which has adapted well to parts of the Upper Midwest, has been released by Agricultural Research Service scientists in Madison, Wisconsin. This meadow fescue, called "Hidden Valley" for the farm where it was found on a shaded hilltop in a long-time pasture that had never been seeded with commercial forages. Cattle thrived on it and it gradually spread from the hilltop grove into gullies and open areas, possibly because cattle eating the ripe seed spread it in their manure. The farmer fed hay made from it to more cattle, to spread it further. He also eventually began consulting with ARS plant geneticist Michael Casler and his colleagues at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center. Casler and his colleagues have since spent more than a decade evaluating the grass. In field trials and other tests, they evaluated how cattle respond to it and how well it grows in a variety of locations. They found that it produces a 9-percent lower yield than orchardgrass and tall fescue, but has a 9-percent higher rate of neutral detergent fiber digestibility. That means cattle digest it more easily and eat more of it, in turn gaining more weight and producin

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2 thoughts on “An Old Forage Makes A Come Back

    1. At the 20 minute mark starts the interesting potion on the difference grass choice can make. I know “preaching to the choir” in this group but it is a striking difference in video form.

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