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Managing variations in dairy cow nutrient supply under grazing

  • J. L. Peyraud (a1) (a2) and R. Delagarde (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Grazed pasture, which is the cheapest source of nutrients for dairy cows, should form the basis of profitable and low-input animal production systems. Management of high-producing dairy cows at pasture is thus a major challenge in most countries. The objective of the present paper is to review the factors that can affect nutrient supply for grazing dairy cows in order to point out areas with scope for improvement on managing variations in nutrient supply to achieve high animal performance while maintaining efficient pasture utilisation per hectare (ha). Reviewing the range in animal requirements, intake capacity and pasture nutritive values shows that high-producing cows cannot satisfy their energy requirements from grazing alone and favourable to unfavourable situations for grazing dairy cows may be classified according to pasture quality and availability. Predictive models also enable calculation of supplementation levels required to meet energy requirements in all situations. Solutions to maintain acceptable level of production per cow and high output per ha are discussed. Strategies of concentrate supplementation and increasing use of legumes in mixed swards are the most promising. It is concluded that although high-producing cow cannot express their potential milk production at grazing, there is scope to improve animal performance at grazing given recent developments in our understanding of factors influencing forage intake and digestion of grazed forages.

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Keywords

Managing variations in dairy cow nutrient supply under grazing

  • J. L. Peyraud (a1) (a2) and R. Delagarde (a1) (a2)

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