Animal Science Department


First Advisor

Karla H. Jenkins

Second Advisor

James C. MacDonald

Date of this Version



Greenwell, Hannah L., 2016. "Effects of Field Pea Usage in Growing and Finishing Diets for Beef Cattle". University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Thesis.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Animal Science, Under the Supervision of Professors Karla H. Jenkins and James C. MacDonald, Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2016

Copyright 2016 Hannah L. Greenwell


The value of field peas (FP) as a feedstuff has not been thoroughly assessed and compared to other feeds, such as corn, to better establish an economic value. Field peas are characterized by a high CP content (23-26%), a large portion (80%) being rumen degradable protein (RDP), and containing almost a third less starch (31-40%) than corn. Three research trials were performed to better understand the value of FP as a grazing supplement, finishing diet component, and any effects on digestion. Experiment 1 assessed the value of FP as a grazing supplement compared to corn. Grazing was followed by a finishing period with or without FP inclusion at 20% (DM basis). Cattle supplemented FP on pasture had greater ending BW and ADG than those cattle that were not supplemented and lower gains than those cattle supplemented a mixture of DRC, solubles and urea. Finishing performance and carcass characteristics were similar across treatments other than those cattle that were not supplemented on pasture experienced compensatory gain during finishing through increased ADG and G:F.

Two digestion trials were conducted to compare FP to corn in high forage diets and to assess rumen undegradable protein (RUP) of FP. In Exp. 1 cattle were fed either a high (HQ) or low quality (LQ) forage with no supplement (CON), supplemented with FP (PEAS), or supplemented with dry-rolled corn, solubles, urea mixture (CORN) at 0.43% of BW (DM basis). Field peas increased DMI, DM digestibility, OMI, OM digestibility, and NDF digestibility when measured at 24 hours in situ. Feeding FP resulted in VFA concentrations similar to the CON treatment. In Exp. 2, FP were ruminally and duodenally incubated to evaluate RUP content and digestibility. Results show that the specific field peas that were evaluated ranged in CP content from 22 – 26.5% with an RUP content that was significantly affected by rumen incubation duration. As rumen incubation time increased, RUP content decreased. Digestibility of RUP of FP ranged from 97.4 – 98.9%. These studies suggest that if appropriately priced, FP would be a viable option for grazing supplementation or inclusion in finishing diets.

Advisors: Karla Jenkins and James MacDonald