• Incorporating white clover (Trifolium repens L.) into perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) swards receiving varying levels of nitrogen fertilizer: Effects on milk and herbage production

      Egan, Michael; Galvin, Norann; Hennessy, Deirdre; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Irish Dairy Levy (Elsevier, 2018-02-04)
      White clover (Trifolium repens L.; clover) can offer a superior nutritional feed compared with perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.; PRG) and offers an additional or alternative source (or both) of N for herbage production. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of including clover into PRG swards receiving 150 (Cl150) or 250 kg of N/ha (Cl250) compared with a PRG-only sward receiving 250 kg of N/ha (Gr250) on herbage production, milk production, and herbage dry matter intake (DMI) in an intensive grass-based spring calving milk production system over 2 full lactations. A farm systems experiment was established in February 2013, and conducted over 2 grazing seasons [2013 (yr 1) and 2014 (yr 2)]. In February 2013 (yr 1), 42 Holstein-Friesian spring-calving dairy cows, and in February 2014 (yr 2), 57 Holstein-Friesian spring-calving dairy cows were allocated to graze the Cl150, Cl250, and Gr250 swards (n = 14 in yr 1 and n = 19 in yr 2) from February to November, at a stocking rate of 2.74 cows/ha. Herbage DMI was estimated twice in yr 1 (May and September) and 3 times in yr 2 (May, July, and September). Treatment did not have a significant effect on annual herbage production. Sward clover content was greater on the Cl150 treatment than the Cl250 treatment. The cows grazing both clover treatments (Cl250 and Cl150) produced more milk than the cows grazing Gr250 from June until the end of the grazing season. A significant treatment by measurement period interaction was observed on total DMI. In May, the cows on the Cl250 treatment had the greatest DMI. In July, the cows on the clover treatments had greater DMI than those on the Gr250 treatment, whereas in September, the cows on the Cl150 treatment had the lowest DMI. In conclusion, including clover in a PRG sward grazed by spring-calving dairy cows can result in increased animal performance, particularly in the second half of lactation. Reducing N fertilizer application to 150 kg of N/ha on grass-clover swards did not reduce herbage production compared with grass-only swards receiving 250 kg of N/ha. White clover can play an integral role in intensive grazing systems in terms of animal performance and herbage production.
    • Intake, efficiency, and feeding behavior characteristics of Holstein-Friesian cows of divergent Economic Breeding Index evaluated under contrasting pasture-based feeding treatments

      O'Sullivan, M.; Dillon, Pat; O'Sullivan, K.; Pierce, K.M.; Galvin, Norann; Egan, Michael; Buckley, Frank; Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine; 13/S/496 RAPIDFEED (Elsevier, 2019-07-03)
      The objective of the current study was to explore differences in dry matter intake, intake capacity, production efficiency, energy balance, and grazing behavior, of 2 divergent genetic groups (GG) of lactating Holstein-Friesian, selected using the Irish Economic Breeding Index (EBI). The GG were evaluated across 3 spring calving pasture-based feeding treatments (FT) over 3 yr. The 2 divergent GG were (1) high EBI, representative of the top 5% nationally (elite), and (2) EBI representative of the national average (NA). In each year 90 elite and 45 NA cows were randomly allocated to 1 of 3 FT: control, lower grass allowance, and high concentrate. Although FT did affect animal performance, there were few notable incidences of GG × FT interaction. The elite cows expressed lower daily milk yield (−1 kg) compared with NA. Elite cows did, however, express higher daily concentrations of milk fat (+3.7 g/kg) and protein (+2.1 g/kg) compared with NA. Daily yield of milk solids and net energy of lactation (NEL) was similar for both GG. Body weight (BW) was greater for NA (+13 kg) compared with elite, whereas mean body condition score was greater (+0.14) for elite compared with NA. Intake did not differ significantly between GG. Intake capacity, expressed as total dry matter intake/100 kg of BW, was greater with elite compared with NA. Production efficiency expressed as yield of milk solids per 100 kg of BW was greater with elite compared with NA, although milk solids/total dry matter intake did not differ between GG. Expressed as NEL as a proportion of net energy intake minus net energy of maintenance (NEL/NEI – NEM) and NEI/milk solids kg, indicated a slight reduction in the utilization of ingested energy for milk production with elite compared with NA. This is, however, suggested as favorable as it manifested as a more positive energy balance with elite compared with NA and so is likely to enhance robustness, increase longevity, and increase overall lifetime efficiency. Noteworthy was a consistent numerical trend toward more intense grazing activity with elite compared with NA cows, exhibited in the numerically greater grazing time (+19 min) and total number of bites per day (+2,591).