Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources


Juan J. Villalba


Jennifer W. MacAdam

Third Advisor:

Eric Thacker


Beef cattle production is highly criticized because of the high use of land and water resources, and by the pollution (e.g., the gas methane in a cow’s breath and nitrogen in urine) produced by cows fed in feedlots. In contrast to feedlots diets and grasses, some plants (e.g., legumes) contain bioactive compounds (condensed tannins) that reduce pollution and enhance animal nutrition. In my research, I observed that cows grazing a tannin-containing legume (birdsfoot trefoil; BFT) had methane emissions similar to cows fed a feedlot ration with comparable weight gains. Cows in the BFT treatment gained more weight than cows grazing grass (meadow brome) or a legume without tannins (cicer milkvetch). Additionally, I estimated the potential areas in the state of Utah than can sustain birdsfoot trefoil production, with 412,250 ha distributed mostly in the Box elder, Cache, Millard and Sanpete counties. Thus, feeding tannin-containing legumes to cows is a viable alternative to feedlot rations, with greater levels of productivity than other pasture-based systems, which can lead to a more sustainable production of beef.



Included in

Agriculture Commons