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An assessment of the influence on net herbage accumulation herbage consumption and individual animal performance of 2 lengths of grazing rotation and 3 herbage allowances for grazing beef cattle



An assessment of the influence on net herbage accumulation herbage consumption and individual animal performance of 2 lengths of grazing rotation and 3 herbage allowances for grazing beef cattle



Journal of Agricultural Science 96(2): 363-374



Over 3 grazing seasons a sward of perennial ryegrass, cv. Gremie, was grazed on a rotational paddock system by growing beef cattle weighing on average 185.5 kg when turned out to grass in April. Six grazing treatments were compared: grazing at 20 or 35 day intervals at each of 3 herbage allowances of 5.3, 4.3 and 3.3 kg grass [dry matter] D.M./100 kg live wt (4.0, 3.2 and 2.4 kg D.M./100 kg live wt in the 1st yr). Measurements of net herbage accumulation and herbage consumption throughout each grazing season were made by taking grass sampling clips to ground level before and after grazing. Animal liveweight gain was assessed by regression on weighings of stock taken either every 7 or every 4 days depending on regrowth interval treatment. Adjustment of allocation treatment was made by varying the weight of stock grazing on a fixed paddock area. In no year did annual net herbage organic matter accumulation (NHA) differ significantly according to length of grazing interval. NHA showed a 4.7% advantage for the longer interval in the first 2 yr which changed to a deficit of 4.1% in the final year of the experiment. Herbage allowance treatment produced no significant effect on NHA in any year. The interaction effect of herbage allowance and grazing interval was not significant. Herbage consumption was greater in 2 yr out of 3 under the 20 day regrowth period than with the 35 day treatment, although average degree of defoliation was slightly greater (44.0 vs. 38.4%) with the longer interval. Animal liveweight gain was significantly (P < 0.05) affected by herbage allowance in all 3 yr; decreasing herbage allowance generally resulted in reduced liveweight gain. Only in 1 yr was there a significant difference (P < 0.001) in liveweight gain with the different rotation length treatments.

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