Mid-lactation response of cows grazing pasture mixtures containing perennial plantain, white clover, and ryegrass
French, ME and Pembleton, KG and Freeman, MJ and Hills, JL, Mid-lactation response of cows grazing pasture mixtures containing perennial plantain, white clover, and ryegrass, Dairy Research Foundation: Current Topics in Dairy Production, 4-5 July, 2013, Kiama, Australia, pp. 128-133. (2013) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]
Incorporation of the perennial species plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and white clover (Trifolium repens)
into pasture based dairy systems has the potential to improve the supply of highly digestible forage during
times when perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) has low growth rates or poor nutritive value. The objective
of this study was to determine the effect of grazing cows on pasture swards containing mixtures of
plantain, white clover, and perennial ryegrass on milk production and energy and nitrogen status during
mid-lactation. Four pasture sward treatments were assessed; perennial ryegrass monoculture; white clover
and plantain mixture; perennial ryegrass, white clover and plantain mixture; and spatially adjacent
monocultures of perennial ryegrass, white clover and plantain. Pasture swards were grazed with 4 replicate
herds, balanced for age, breed, days in milk, and production to date. Each replicate was allocated 20kg
DM/cow/day of pasture from their treatment sward. Liveweight, body condition score, milk yield, milk
composition along with blood metabolites (non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)
and blood urea nitrogen (BUN)) were used to assess how treatments were affecting cows in mid-lactation.
There was no effect from treatment swards on milk yield between treatments during the response period.
NEFA and BHB indicated no signs of negative energy balance in all treatments. BUN concentrations were
equal to or higher than perennial ryegrass for the treatments containing plantain and white clover. It was
concluded that the incorporation of plantain and white clover into pasture based systems will have no
negative effects on production or energy and nitrogen status during mid-lactation.