Animal Science, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



1997 J Dairy Sci 80:1143–1149


The objective of this research was to determine the relationships between the morphological development and in situ ruminally degradable protein (RDP), ruminally undegradable protein (RUP), and microbial protein of two cool season grasses (intermediate wheatgrass and smooth bromegrass) and two warm season grasses (switchgrass and big bluestem). The initial growth of grass tillers grown near Mead, Nebraska was clipped at ground level six times during the 1992 growing season and morphologically classified. Mean stage was calculated. Forage was ground to pass a 2-mm screen and was incubated in ruminally fistulated steers for 16 h. The RUP was adjusted for microbial protein and acid detergent insoluble N. The mean stage of cool season grasses was higher than that of warm season grasses throughout the growing season. The RDP decreased as plant maturity increased for all species. The RUP expressed as a percentage of crude protein for the cool season grasses was lower than that for warm season grasses. The RUP for intermediate wheatgrass, smooth bromegrass, and switchgrass remained constant across maturities, but RUP for big bluestem decreased as maturity increased. Microbial augmentation of RUP decreased as crude protein decreased in all species. The RUP corrected for acid detergent insoluble N and microbial protein was relatively constant across plant maturities. The quantification of RUP across a range of plant maturities provided information for incorporating RUP content of forage grasses into the diets of animals.