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Sward characteristics, grass dry matter intake and milk production performance are affected by pre-grazing herbage mass and pasture allowance

Author:
Curran, J., Delaby, L., Kennedy, E., Murphy, J.P., Boland, T.M., O'Donovan, M.
Source:
Livestock science 2010 v.127 no.2-3 pp. 144-154
ISSN:
1871-1413
Subject:
dairy cows, milk protein yield, dry matter content, stocking rate, lactose, pastures, grazing, regrowth, Holstein, rumen fermentation, grazing management, leaves, sward, rumen fluids, dry matter intake, pH, vegetation structure
Abstract:
The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of pre-grazing herbage mass (HM) and pasture allowance (PA) on sward characteristics, milk production performance, dry matter intake (DMI) and rumen fermentation of spring calving dairy cows. Sixty-four Holstein-Friesian dairy cows (mean calving date, February 11) were balanced and randomly assigned to one of four treatments (n =16) in a 2×2 factorial design. Two swards, a low HM (L HM) sward (1600kg dry matter (DM)/ha) and a high HM (H HM) sward (2400kgDM/ha), were created by varying the regrowth interval before the study start date, with two PA, 15 and 20kg DM/cow/day imposed on each sward. Animals fitted with rumen cannula (n =4) moved in a complete Latin square to investigate the effect of HM and PA on rumen fermentation. The study lasted 30weeks and was analysed as two periods; PI (April 9-July 20) and PII (July 21-October 31). Sward structural characteristics, grass dry matter intake (GDMI) and rumen fermentation were investigated during PI and PII. The mean HM was 1551kgDM/ha and 2678kgDM/ha for L HM and H HM respectively in PI, and 1753kgDM/ha and 2281kgDM/ha for the L HM and H HM respectively in PII. During PII, the leaf proportion (> and <40mm) was higher in the L HM swards than the H HM swards. There was a lower dead proportion>40mm in the L HM swards compared to the H HM swards. In PI, the L HM treatments had significantly higher milk production (+0.9kg), milk protein yield (+42.4g/day) and milk lactose yield (+42.9g/day). Increasing PA increased milk yield (+1.1kg; +1.8kg), solids-corrected milk (+0.9kg; +1.3kg), protein (+67.9g/day; +63.5g/day) and lactose (+55.2g/day; +80.1g/day) yield in PI and PII respectively. The milk response per kilogram of GDMI was 1.13kg for the L HM animals compared to 0.65kg for the H HM animals. Rumen pH was lower for animals grazing the L HM swards (pH 5.69) than for animals grazing the H HM swards (pH 5.88) with no adverse rumen conditions evident. The results of this study suggest that L HM (1600kgDM/ha) and 20kg PA had a positive effect on sward characteristics which resulted in increased milk production and sward quality.
Agid:
775392