Two experiments were conducted to provide information on the precision of herbage sampling, the degree of replication and the logistics of managing rotational and continuous grazing experiments. In a third experiment the possibility of estimating herbage growth, during the rotational grazing of paddocks for 4 days, by linear extrapolation of measured growth estimates made during the interval between grazings was investigated. A fourth experiment was then conducted to investigate animal and herbage production responses to nitrogen applied at five levels over the range 80–900 kg N/ha with three replicates per treatment.
Results from Expts 1 and 2 showed that similar precision could be obtained under both rotational and continuous systems of grazing with the same number of replicates and samples of herbage. There was little advantage in having more than three replicates and four samples per paddock or two replicates and eight samples per paddock. Under continuous grazing a 3-weekly sampling and movement of exclosure cages was indicated. It was also found, from Expt 3 that, under rotational grazing, linear extrapolation of growth from 0–24 days did not reflect growth to 28 days in a consistent manner. Six animals per treatment, permanently in the paddocks, proved adequate for the estimation of live-weight gain.
Experiment 4 confirmed that response curves could be fitted with an acceptable degree of precision if there was one low, one very high, and two intermediate levels of nitrogen. Adjustment of the number of animals to maintain sward height at between 5 and 7 cm ensured similar sward conditions and rates of live-weight gain across all treatments.
The problems associated with the measurement of herbage production under grazing are discussed.