Track 1-08

Description

Perennial ryegrass is considered one of the most important forage grass species used in temperate ruminant animal production systems. Maximizing milk production from grazed grass is a major objective of pastoral-based dairy systems. While DM yield is an important trait, it fails to define the ultimate value of a grass cultivar, which is its potential to improve animal performance from a pasture sward (Reed 1994). The majority of cultivar evaluation trials are conducted under cutting, so therefore inferior cultivars from an animal production perspective may not be identified until commercialisation when animals graze a pasture sward. Reed (1978) reported that ryegrass pastures of similar digestibility can have different animal production responses depending on the season. Without exposure to animal production trials, practical differences between cultivars under field conditions may not be detected.

The objective of the current study was to evaluate the effect of four perennial ryegrass cultivars with different sward characteristics on milk yield, milk composition and dry matter intake (DMI) of lactating dairy cows during the spring and mid-season period.

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Cultivar Influences Milk Production of Grazing Dairy Cows

Perennial ryegrass is considered one of the most important forage grass species used in temperate ruminant animal production systems. Maximizing milk production from grazed grass is a major objective of pastoral-based dairy systems. While DM yield is an important trait, it fails to define the ultimate value of a grass cultivar, which is its potential to improve animal performance from a pasture sward (Reed 1994). The majority of cultivar evaluation trials are conducted under cutting, so therefore inferior cultivars from an animal production perspective may not be identified until commercialisation when animals graze a pasture sward. Reed (1978) reported that ryegrass pastures of similar digestibility can have different animal production responses depending on the season. Without exposure to animal production trials, practical differences between cultivars under field conditions may not be detected.

The objective of the current study was to evaluate the effect of four perennial ryegrass cultivars with different sward characteristics on milk yield, milk composition and dry matter intake (DMI) of lactating dairy cows during the spring and mid-season period.