Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 March 2009
1. In continuation of experiments made in 1949 (Holmes et al. 1950) an experiment was carried out from 7 May until 23 September 1950, to compare close-folding and rotational grazing of cows on pastures which were liberally treated with nitrogenous fertilizer. With close-folding the cows were moved daily to an area of fresh pasture calculated to supply the day's feed requirements; the rate of stocking for the day ranged from thirty to sixty-five cows per acre. With rotational grazing the cows were stocked on pasture at the rate of seven to eight cows per acre and moved from one pasture to the other at intervals of 3–4 days. Two uniform groups of six Ayrshire cows were used in a double reversal layout with four periods each of 5 weeks. The same pastures as in 1949—a permanent pasture and a cocksfoot ley—suitably divided by electric fences were used. No supplementary feeding was given.
2. The average yield per acre from close-folding was 241 cow-days, 732 gal. of milk and 320 lb. live-weight gain—equivalent to 632 lb. digestible crude protein and 4316 lb. starch equivalent. Rotational grazing on similar adjoining paddocks gave 181 cow-days, 557 gal. of milk and 285 lb. liveweight gain per acre, equivalent to 486 lb. digestible crude protein and 3371 lb. starch equivalent.
3. The average daily milk yield per cow was 29·5 lb. for one group and 30·2 lb. for the other. For close-folding it was 29·6 lb. and for rotational grazing it was 30·1 lb., none of the differences being significant. Nor were any differences in the average live weight of the groups or in their live-weight gains significant.
4. The increased production per acre from closefolding compared with rotational grazing—amounting to 20–40%—could be related to the increased efficiency with which the available pasture was consumed.
5. Close-folding had no harmful effect on the pastures. Although the season was exceptionally wet, poaching occurred only in the gates and alleyways. 6. The frequent applications of nitrogenous fertilizer throughout the season maintained regular production of good herbage. In June and July, however, despite the fertilizer applied, the crudeprotein content dropped on some paddocks to 13% of the dry matter, a figure barely sufficient to maintain high milk yields.
7. Comparison of the production per acre in 1950 with that in 1949 where close-folding was used, showed an increase of 34% in starch equivalent utilized on the permanent pasture. For each extra cwt. ‘Nitro-Chalk’ applied in 1950 over that in 1949, 190 lb. starch equivalent were produced. On the cocksfoot the response to additional nitrogen was reduced because of potash deficiency induced by cropping for grass-drying in 1948.
8. The factors affecting the increased production from close-folding and the fertilizer requirements of pasture are discussed.