More milk from forage: Milk production, blood metabolites, and forage intake of dairy cows grazing pasture mixtures and spatially adjacent monocultures
Pembleton, KG and Hills, JL and Freeman, MJ and McLaren, DK and French, M and Rawnsley, RP, More milk from forage: Milk production, blood metabolites, and forage intake of dairy cows grazing pasture mixtures and spatially adjacent monocultures, Journal of Dairy Science, 99, (5) pp. 3512-3528. ISSN 0022-0302 (2016) [Refereed Article]
There is interest in the reincorporation of legumes and forbs into pasture-based dairy production systems as a means of increasing milk production through addressing the nutritive value limitations of grass pastures. The experiments reported in this paper were undertaken to evaluate milk production, blood metabolite concentrations, and forage intake levels of cows grazing either pasture mixtures or spatially adjacent monocultures containing perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), white clover (Trifolium repens), and plantain (Plantago lanceolata) compared with cows grazing monocultures of perennial ryegrass. Four replicate herds, each containing 4 spring-calving, cross-bred dairy cows, grazed 4 different forage treatments over the periods of early, mid, and late lactation. Forage treatments were perennial ryegrass monoculture (PRG), a mixture of white clover and plantain (CPM), a mixture of perennial ryegrass, white clover, and plantain (RCPM), and spatially adjacent monocultures (SAM) of perennial ryegrass, white clover, and plantain. Milk volume, milk composition, blood fatty acids, blood β-hydroxybutyrate, blood urea N concentrations, live weight change, and estimated forage intake were monitored over a 5-d response period occurring after acclimation to each of the forage treatments. The acclimation period for the early, mid, and late lactation experiments were 13, 13, and 10 d, respectively. Milk yield (volume and milk protein) increased for cows grazing the RCPM and SAM in the early lactation experiment compared with cows grazing the PRG, whereas in the mid lactation experiment, milk fat increased for the cows grazing the RCPM and SAM when compared with the PRG treatments. Improvements in milk production from grazing the RCPM and SAM treatments are attributed to improved nutritive value (particularly lower neutral detergent fiber concentrations) and a potential increase in forage intake. Pasture mixtures or SAM containing plantain and white clover could be a strategy for alleviating the nutritive limitations of perennial ryegrass monocultures, leading to an increase in milk production for spring calving dairy cows during early and mid lactation.
grazing, dairy cows, pasture mixes, pasture-based dairy systems, species mixtures, monocultures, forage intake, novel forage species