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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Research Project #443572

Research Project: Evaluating Pasture Systems in the Upper Midwest

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Project Number: 5090-21500-003-001-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 15, 2023
End Date: Dec 31, 2027

Our specific objectives include: 1) collect pasture and animal performance data from dairy heifers grazing on contrasting systems; and 2) collect intake and enteric methane emissions data from heifers grazing these contrasting systems.

Objective 1. A 17-hectare pasture will be subdivided into 9 individual pastures, to create individual experimental units. These pastures will be planted with nitrogen fertilized grass, non-nitrogen fertilized grass, and grass-legume mixtures, to create contrasting grazing systems. Dairy heifers will be used as experimental animals for this experiment. Pasture data related to plant production and nutritive value will be collected on a bi-weekly basis. Animal performance will be measured every month by weighing the animals. Our goal is to evaluate pasture productivity and estimate the amount of weight gain per unit land area in these contrasting systems. Objective 2. From the pastures described in Objective 1, intake measurements will be collected through the use of external markers. Automated head-chamber systems capable of collecting animal breath and analyzing for methane concentrations will be utilized in the pastures. These systems are especially equipped to quantify enteric methane emissions in grazing cattle. Our goal is to further understand the methane emissions per unit of intake on grazing heifers.