REDESIGNING FORAGE GERMPLASM AND PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR EFFICIENCY, PROFIT, AND SUSTAINABILITY OF DAIRY FARMS
Location: Dairy Forage and Aquaculture Research
Title: Maturity and time of grazing effects on temperate grass productivity and persistence
Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 16, 2011
Publication Date: January 9, 2012
Citation: Brink, G.E., Jackson, R. 2012. Maturity and time of grazing effects on temperate grass productivity and persistence [abstract]. In: Proceedings of American Forage and Grassland Conference, January 9-11, 2012, Louisville, Kentucky. CDROM.
Pasture productivity and persistence are significantly impacted by grazing management. We determined how the maturity of the grass, and the time of the season when it is grazed, influences annual productivity and persistence. Meadow fescue, orchardgrass, quackgrass, and reed canarygrass plots (15 x 25 ft.) were grazed in the spring (early to late May), summer (early to late July), or fall (late August to late September) at 6-, 12- (control), and 18 inch heights to a 3 inch residue. Any time grasses were not grazed according to these treatments, grasses were grazed at a 12 inch height to a 3 inch residue. Yield was measured prior to each grazing event. Maximum mean annual yield (5060 lb./acre) was obtained when grasses were grazed at 18 inches (mature) in the spring, although yield during the remainder of the season was reduced 500 lb./acre, and tiller density was reduced 10- to 30%. Grazing at 6 inches in early May reduced productivity by 30% during the remainder of the season in one year, compared to grazing at 12 inches. Grazing at 6 inches in late July, during drought, reduced productivity 20% during the remainder of the year. The results suggest that grazing short, vegetative grass will have the most detrimental effect on pasture productivity when followed by moisture stress. While forage quality is reduced, allowing grass to reach maturity in the spring, before grazing, benefits annual production.