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Fresh young leaves (first 2-3 leaves, 12-20 d old) of the new tall fescue cultivars are eaten well by livestock and have nutritive value (see Chapter 11) similar to that of perennial ryegrass (L. perenne L.). Recommended schemes for grazing tall fescue by beef cattle and sheep are presented in Table 7-1. When periods between grazings exceed 30 d, nutritive value tends to decline due to increasing amounts of stem and dead material and because leaves become tougher through the process of lignification (Fig. 7-1). This most commonly occurs when pastures are rested for long periods over winter, or where soil moisture stress restricts growth. In addition, palatability of tall fescue taller than 15 cm declines more rapidly than that of perennial ryegrass. Tall fescue has a large reproductive stem that can quickly become unpalatable to stock, particularly lambs, which have a strong preference for young leaves.
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