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Maximizing Lucerne ( Medicago sativa ) Pasture Intake of Dairy Cows: 1-the Effect of Pre-Grazing Pasture Height and Mixed Ration Level

Maximizing Lucerne ( Medicago sativa ) Pasture Intake of Dairy Cows: 1-the Effect of Pre-Grazing Pasture Height and Mixed Ration Level

Animals: An Open Access Journal from Mdpi 10(5)

ISSN/ISBN: 2076-2615

PMID: 32429221

DOI: 10.3390/ani10050860

Simple Summary Pre-grazing pasture height has significant impact on intake rate and intake in grazing dairy herds, and the ideal pre-grazing pasture height varies between pasture species. Defining the ideal pre-grazing pasture height of lucerne pasture has potential to significantly increase milk production of cows on sub-tropical partial mixed ration (PMR) dairies in Australia. Pasture intake of dairy cows was highest when the pre-grazing pasture height of lucerne was 39 cm and a proportion of the pasture remained un-grazed, irrespective of the amount of mixed ration offered. Abstract 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.

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