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Milk Production, Milk Quality, and Behaviour of Dairy Cows Grazing on Swards with Low and High Water-Soluble Carbohydrates Content in Autumn: A Pilot Trial
Open AccessArticle

Short-Term Effect of Daily Herbage Allowance Restriction on Pasture Condition and the Performance of Grazing Dairy Cows during Autumn

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Escuela de Graduados, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Austral de Chile, P.O. Box 567, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
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Departamento de Producción Animal, Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Concepción, P.O. Box 160-C, Concepción 4030000, Chile
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Instituto de Producción Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Austral de Chile, P.O. Box 567, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
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Departamento de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Acuícolas, Facultad de Recursos Naturales, Universidad Católica de Temuco, Temuco 4780000, Chile
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Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon EX20 2SB, UK
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Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Austral de Chile, P.O. Box 567, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010062
Received: 21 November 2019 / Revised: 19 December 2019 / Accepted: 23 December 2019 / Published: 29 December 2019
Daily herbage allowance (defined as herbage mass × daily offered area) is recognized as the main grazing management factor to improve pasture utilization and milk output per hectare. Daily herbage allowances should balance the dual objectives of high milk output per hectare while maintaining the quality of the pasture to optimize the profitability of grazing-based dairy production systems. We tested two contrasting herbage allowances (17 and 25 kg dry matter (DM)/cow.day) and two levels of maize silage supplementation (4.5 and 9 kg DM/cow.day) in grazing dairy cows and measured a set of variables related to pasture management, sward characteristics, dynamic of herbage depletion throughout the grazing sessions, and cows grazing behavior, among others. Our results suggest that a more intensive grazing regime of 17 kg DM/cow per day of daily herbage allowance rather than a high level of supplementation with maize silage is appropriate to improve milk production and solids yield per hectare without affecting pasture quality or sward characteristics over the short-term.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the short-term effects of daily herbage allowance (DHA, defined as the product of pre-grazing herbage mass and offered area per animal) on pasture conditions and milk production of Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. Forty-four early lactation dairy cows were randomly assigned to one of four treatments in a 2 × 2 factorial design that tested two levels of DHA (17 and 25 kg DM/cow.day) and two levels of maize silage supplementation (MSS, 4.5 and 9 kg DM/cow.day) over a 77-day period. Low DHA decreased the post-grazing herbage mass from 1546 to 1430 kg DM/ha and the compressed sward height from 5 to 4.4 cm, while the grazing efficiency remained unaffected. Low DHA induced a faster herbage mass reduction, while the sward-height and pasture characteristics did not differ from the high DHA regime. Low DHA decreased the tiller production rates and daily lamina growth, while the leaf-production rate was not affected by the DHA. Daily increases of herbage mass were greater in the high DHA than in the low DHA treatments. Individual milk production and milk protein concentration decreased at a low DHA compared to high DHA, while the milk fat concentration was greater and the milk output per hectare increased by 1510 kg. Neither the MSS level nor the interaction DHA by the MSS level had any effect on the sward characteristics or the productivity of the cows. From these results, it is suggested that, in a high-quality pasture, using 17 kg DM/cow.day was appropriate for improving both herbage utilization and milk production per hectare while maintaining the short-term conditions of a pasture grazed by dairy cows in the autumn. View Full-Text
Keywords: dairy cows; grazing management; milk production; grazing efficiency dairy cows; grazing management; milk production; grazing efficiency
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Merino, V.M.; Balocchi, O.A.; Rivero, M.J.; Pulido, R.G. Short-Term Effect of Daily Herbage Allowance Restriction on Pasture Condition and the Performance of Grazing Dairy Cows during Autumn. Animals 2020, 10, 62.

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