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Performance of temperate perennial pastures in the Australian subtropics 2. Milk production

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Bowdler, T.M., Casey, N.D., Moss, R.J. and Lowe, K.F. (1999) Performance of temperate perennial pastures in the Australian subtropics 2. Milk production. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 39 (6). pp. 677-683. ISSN 0816-1089


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/EA98022


Milk production from irrigated, pure stands of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne cv. Yatsyn), prairie grass (Bromus willdenodii cv. Matua) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea cv. AU Triumph) were compared with that achieved from Italian ryegrass (L. multiflorum cv. Concord) over 3 lactations of multiparous Holstein–Friesian cows at Mutdapilly in south-east Queensland.
Pastures were fertilised with 50 kg nitrogen/ha . month as urea and annual dressings of 20 kg phosphorus/ha and 50 kg potassium/ha (as superphosphate and muriate of potash respectively). There were 4 pasture treatments grazed at 3 cows/ha in a 1-week-on, 3-weeks-off rotation with 2 replicates and 3 cows/treatment block. Cows grazed the pastures day and night from May to November. Over summer, cows grazed the pastures during the night and were fed supplements (silage in the first lactation, and lucerne hay in the second and third lactations) during the day because there was no shade available in the irrigation areas. In autumn, the animals were removed from the ryegrass and prairie grass pastures for 8 weeks to allow seedling re-establishment, either by oversowing (ryegrasses) or natural reseeding (prairie grass). Cows continued to graze the fescue pastures at night during autumn. All cows received a ration of 4 kg/cow of a grain–minerals mixture in the first lactation and 5 kg/cow in the second and third lactations.

Milk production from perennial ryegrass was higher than from fescue in the first lactation and Italian ryegrass in the second and third lactations. Prairie grass gave similar milk production to perennial ryegrass in all 3 years. In the third year, perennial ryegrass, prairie grass and fescue gave similar milk production. Milk quality from the 4 grasses was similar except in the third lactation when the lactose content of milk from perennial ryegrass pastures was lowest. There were also small and inconsistent differences in milk component yields between the 4 grasses. Liveweight changes were small except in the second lactation when the cows grazing fescue lost weight relative to the other treatments. Mean liveweight at calving increased over the 3 lactations.

It was concluded that all 3 temperate perennial grasses demonstrated useful traits for use in subtropical dairy pastures. Perennial ryegrass produced the most milk from the lowest amount of dry matter on offer. Prairie grass produced similar milk yields to perennial ryegrass, was well eaten by cattle and was self regenerating. Although fescue was slower to establish and needed more intensive management to control maturity, it was the most persistent and was the only grass to provide autumn grazing. In the second year this attribute resulted in a lower requirement for supplementary feeding. Fescue produced the highest gross margin in the second lactation and was only marginally less than prairie grass in the third. The performance of Italian ryegrass was as good as that of perennial ryegrass in the first lactation but fell substantially in the second and third lactations as the level of summer grass invasion increased.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Plant culture > Field crops > Forage crops. Feed crops
Animal culture > Cattle > Dairying
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Live Archive:05 Mar 2024 23:13
Last Modified:05 Mar 2024 23:13

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