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Inclusion of white clover in strip-grazed perennial ryegrass swards: herbage intake and milk yield of dairy cows at different ages of sward regrowth

  • H. M. N. Ribeiro Filho (a1), R. Delagarde (a1) and J. L. Peyraud (a1)

Abstract

The introduction of legumes in grass-based swards provides some economic and agronomic advantages, often allowing an increase in the performance of grazing ruminants. The aim of this study was to obtain a better quantification of the nutritional benefits to dairy cows after introducing white clover into swards of perennial ryegrass (PRG), using two ages of regrowth. Four treatments were studied in a 2 ✕ 2 factorial design with two sward types and two ages of regrowth. The swards were either a pure perennial ryegrass sward with nitrogen (N) fertilization, or a perennial ryegrass/white clover mixture (GC) with no N fertilization. The regrowth ages were 19 and 35 days (treatments: PRG19, PRG35, GC19 and GC35). The proportion of clover in the GC swards was on average 420 g/kg dry matter (DM). Twelve late-lactation Holstein cows, fistulated at the rumen and duodenum, were used according to a 4 ✕ 4 Latin-square design with four 11-day periods. The pasture was strip-grazed with 12 kg DM per cow of herbage above 5 cm offered daily in all the treatments.

The effects of sward type and regrowth age were often additive, in particular for herbage intake and milk yield. Herbage organic matter (OM) intake, duodenal non-ammonia N (NAN) flow and milk yields were higher on the GC swards and lower on the older regrowths. Finally, the performance of the cows was similar on the PRG19 and GC35 treatments. The OM digestibility of the selected herbage as well as the duodenal nitrogen flux per kg digestible OM intake was not affected by the sward type. Ruminal fermentations were more intense with mixed swards and the youngest regrowths. The daily grazing time and the daily pattern of grazing activities were modified by the type of sward and by regrowth age. The average OM intake rate was higher on the GC swards than on the PRG swards. In this study, the nutritional advantage of introducing white clover into swards of perennial ryegrass was related to an increase in herbage intake and not to any improvement in the nutritive value of the sward.

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Corresponding author

Corresponding author. E-mail: delagard@st-gilles.rennes.inra.fr

References

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Keywords

Inclusion of white clover in strip-grazed perennial ryegrass swards: herbage intake and milk yield of dairy cows at different ages of sward regrowth

  • H. M. N. Ribeiro Filho (a1), R. Delagarde (a1) and J. L. Peyraud (a1)

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