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Pre-Grazing Herbage Mass Affects Grazing Behavior, Herbage Disappearance, and the Residual Nutritive Value of a Pasture during the First Grazing Session

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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 Ciencias Agronómicas, Universidad de Chile, Santiago 8820808, 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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Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Austral de Chile, P.O. Box 567, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020212
Received: 14 December 2019 / Revised: 23 January 2020 / Accepted: 25 January 2020 / Published: 28 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
The progressive defoliation carried out by dairy cows during the grazing-down process affects the characteristics of the pasture, the dry matter intake and the productive performance of the animals, particularly during the first hours of grazing. This is especially relevant when increasing the efficiency in pasture-based dairy systems. Two pre-grazing herbage masses (high and medium herbage masses) were used to evaluate the process of defoliation carried out by dairy cows during the first hours after the beginning of grazing and its effects on the pasture and animals. The pre-grazing herbage mass affected the ingestive behavior of dairy cows, which influenced the productive performance, and the morphological characteristics and nutritive value of the pasture. It is concluded that pre-grazing herbage mass affects the grazing process carried out by dairy cows during the first hours after the allocation of a new grazing area, modifying the eating pattern of the dairy cows. The results of our study allow highlighting the importance of grazing management in pasture-based dairy systems.
During the first hours after the allocation of a grazing strip (first grazing session, GS), dairy cows eat most of the daily dry matter (DM) available. There are few studies that analyze how the grazing-down process changes the characteristics of the pasture during the first GS. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of two pre-grazing herbage masses (HM; medium herbage mass (MHM) and high herbage mass (HHM) on the DM disappearance, grazing behavior of dairy cows, and the residual nutritive value of a pasture during the first GS. Two groups of twelve dairy cows were used to evaluate the grazing-down process, during a period of 62 days. The pre-grazing HM modified the bite rate, bite mass, and dry matter intake during the first GS. The pre-grazing HM affected the process of herbage disappearance of the pasture, especially during the first 60 min of the GS. The nutrient selection differential for acid detergent fiber was greater for HHM compared with MHM (0.93 vs. 0.86). In conclusion, pre-grazing HM affects the structural characteristics and the residual nutritive value of the pasture. The grazing process in the first GS was modified by the HM, affecting the defoliation and the DM disappearance rate of the pasture. View Full-Text
Keywords: herbage mass; nutrient selection; ingestive behavior; dry matter intake; herbage disappearance herbage mass; nutrient selection; ingestive behavior; dry matter intake; herbage disappearance
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MDPI and ACS Style

Piña, L.F.; Balocchi, O.A.; Keim, J.P.; Pulido, R.G.; Rosas, F. Pre-Grazing Herbage Mass Affects Grazing Behavior, Herbage Disappearance, and the Residual Nutritive Value of a Pasture during the First Grazing Session. Animals 2020, 10, 212.

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