Maximizing lucerne (Medicago sativa) pasture intake of dairy cows: 1-The effect of pre-grazing pasture height and mixed ration level
journal contributionposted on 2022-03-30, 00:44 authored by Kieran AD Ison, Marcelo A Benvenutti, David G Mayer, Simon QuigleySimon Quigley, David G Barber
The effect of lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) pre-grazing pasture height on pasture intake and milk production was investigated in a sub-tropical partial mixed ration (PMR) dairy system in south-east Queensland, Australia. The experiment involved a 26-day adaptation period followed by an eight-day measurement period during April and May 2018. Twenty-four multiparous Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were offered a mixed ration at either 7 (low) or 14 (high) kg dry matter (DM)/cow/day and allocated pastures at pre-grazing heights ranging from 23 to 39 cm. The targeted pasture intake was 14 and 7 kg DM/cow/day for cows offered the low and high mixed ration allowances respectively, with a total intake target of 21 kg DM/cow/day. Pasture structure did not limit pasture intake as the all groups left at least 12% of the allocated area ungrazed, and therefore could selectively graze pasture. There was no significant difference in intake between mixed ration levels, however intake had a positive linear relationship with pre-grazing pasture height. For every one cm increase in pasture height, intake increased by 0.3 kg DM/cow/day. Using a grazing strategy that ensures the some pasture remains ungrazed and the pre-grazing height of lucerne is approximately 39 cm above ground level will maximise pasture intake in sub-tropical PMR dairy systems.