Short-Term Effect of Daily Herbage Allowance Restriction on Pasture Condition and the Performance of Grazing Dairy Cows during Autumn
Escuela de Graduados, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Austral de Chile, P.O. Box 567, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
Departamento de Producción Animal, Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Concepción, P.O. Box 160-C, Concepción 4030000, Chile
Instituto de Producción Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Austral de Chile, P.O. Box 567, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
Departamento de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Acuícolas, Facultad de Recursos Naturales, Universidad Católica de Temuco, Temuco 4780000, Chile
Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon EX20 2SB, UK
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.
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.