REDESIGNING FORAGE GERMPLASM AND PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR EFFICIENCY, PROFIT, AND SUSTAINABILITY OF DAIRY FARMS
Location: Dairy Forage and Aquaculture Research
Title: Grazing Frequency and Intensity Effects on Temperate Grass Growth
Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 13, 2010
Publication Date: June 21, 2010
Citation: Brink, G.E., Jackson, R.D. 2010. Grazing Frequency and Intensity Effects on Temperate Grass Growth [CD-ROM]. American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings. Berea, KY: AFGC.
Grazing management has a significant influence on the capacity of pastures to meet the intake and nutritional needs of livestock throughout the season. Our objective was to determine the effect of grazing frequency and intensity on annual yield and its seasonal distribution, forage nutritive value, and persistence of temperate perennial grasses. Meadow fescue, orchardgrass, quackgrass, and reed canarygrass were rotationally grazed throughout the growing season at either a vegetative (10-12 in. tall) or mature (20-24 in. tall) stage to remove 50, 75, and 100% of the herbage on a height basis. When grass was grazed at a vegetative stage, reducing the residual sward height (RSH) reduced grass growth rate but increased annual dry matter yield, had little effect on forage nutritive value, and had a negative effect on tiller density by the end of the season. When grass was grazed at a mature stage, reducing the RSH increased annual yield but reduced forage nutritive value, particularly in the spring, and reduced tiller density by the end of the season. Although producers may manage pastures in a variety of ways to meet the nutritive requirements of livestock, the data suggests that while short-term annual productivity is increased, growth rate and persistence of temperate grasses is negatively associated with grazing intensity regardless of maturity.