• The effect of grazing pressure on rotationally grazed pastures in spring/early summer on subsequent sward characteristics

      Stakelum, G.; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      Two experiments (E1 and E2) were carried out to examine the effect of grazing pressure (GP) in the early part of the grazing season on subsequent sward composition. Three GP levels, equating to 6.35, 4.24 and 3.53 cows/ha in E1, and 6.06, 5.05 and 4.03 cows/ha in E2, were used. The GP treatments were applied between April and July in E1, and April and June in E2. As GP decreased different swards, termed high (HQ), medium (MQ) and low (LQ) quality, were created. The post-grazing sward heights at the end of the GP periods were 6.6, 10.5 and 14.6 (s.e. 0.78) cm in E1, and 5.9, 8.8 and 11.4 (s.e. 0.39) cm in E2, for HQ, MQ and low LQ, respectively. Organic matter digestibility coefficients for herbage from the HQ, MQ and LQ swards during the subsequent grazing cycles averaged 0.770, 0.729 and 0.702 (s.e. 0.0055) in E1, and 0.761, 0.731 and 0.711 (s.e. 0.0038) in E2, respectively. Average live leaf proportions of the HQ, MQ and LQ swards were 0.583, 0.427 and 0.329 (s.e. 0.0193) in E1, and 0.600, 0.474 and 0.362 (s.e. 0.0155) in E2, respectively. GP had a significant effect on the proportion of grass area categorised as short grass (SG). The proportions of SG area in HQ, MQ and LQ were 0.711, 0.579 and 0.445 (s.e. 0.0106), respectively, in E1, and 0.700, 0.556 and 0.441 (s.e. 0.0133), respectively, in E2. Pre-grazing herbage mass (dry matter above 45 mm) was 2,065, 2,736 and 3,700 (s.e. 144.1) kg/ha for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively, in E1 and 2,688, 3,735 and 4,722 (s.e. 145.0) kg/ha for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively, in E2. The results show the importance of early season grazing pressure in creating a leafy high-digestibility sward for the remainder of the grazing season.
    • The effect of grazing pressure on rotationally grazed pastures in spring/early summer on the performance of dairy cows in the summer/autumn period

      Stakelum, G.; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      Two experiments (E1 and E2) were carried out to examine the effects of sward type (ST) on dairy cow performance. Applying grazing pressures (GP) in spring/early summer of 6.35, 4.24 and 3.53 cows/ha in E1, and 6.06, 5.05 and 4.03 cows/ha in E2, created the different ST. From summer to autumn, two stocking rates (SR) were applied to each sward, i.e., high (HR) and low (LR). As GP was reduced, the swards were characterised by progressively higher herbage mass of lower organic matter digestibility (OMD) and live leaf (LL) proportion, termed high (HQ), medium (MQ) and low (LQ) quality. There was no interaction between ST and SR for any animal performance variables except for grazing time. Mean diet OMD was 0.816, 0.803 and 0.794 (s.e. 0.0029) in E1, and 0.793, 0.780 and 0.772 (s.e. 0.0021) in E2, for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively. The corresponding values for LL were 0.785, 0.740 and 0.709 (s.e. 0.0121) in E1, and 0.825, 0.790 and 0.759 (s.e. 0.0095) in E2. Milk yield per cow was 13.2, 12.2 and 10.6 (s.e. 0.55) kg in E1, and 18.4, 17.5 and 16.2 (s.e. 0.32) kg in E2, for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively. Milk yields were 11.1 and 12.9 (s.e. 0.46) kg in E1, and 16.4 and 18.3 (s.e. 0.26) kg in E2, for HR and LR, respectively. There was no effect of ST or SR on milk composition or body weight gain. Herbage organic matter intake was 12.8, 12.5 and 11.1 (s.e. 0.28) kg in E2, for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively. The corresponding values were 11.4 and 12.9 (s.e. 0.23) kg for HR and LR, respectively. The results show that milk yield of springcalving dairy cows is higher in summer when high rather than low stocking rates are applied in spring/early summer. The increased milk production is attributed to higher intake of herbage of higher nutritive value.