Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #266533


Location: Dairy Forage Research

Title: Grazing: From the farm to research and back to the farm

item Brink, Geoffrey

Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/24/2011
Publication Date: 1/27/2011
Citation: Brink, G.E. 2011. Grazing: From the farm to research, and back to the farm. In: Proceedings of the North Central Ohio Dairy Grazing Conference, 27-28 January 2011, Walton, Ohio. Ohio Small Farm Institute, Coshocton, Ohio. p. 11.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The goal of grazing-based dairy producers is to manage pastures to be a sustainable and economical feed source. Pasture management issues that are frequently raised include the effect of residue height of vegetative grass, mob-stocking of mature grass, and grazing stressed grass on yield distribution and annual productivity. Four erect-growing grasses were grazed by Holstein heifers from April to October of 2009 and 2010 in south central Wisconsin at a vegetative stage (12 in. tall) to a 6, 3, or 1.5 in. residue, at a mature stage (24 in. tall) to a 6 in. residue, and when less than 4 in. in the early spring when growth began, in the summer when drought-stressed, or in late fall before growth was stopped by cold temperatures. Reducing residue height of vegetative grass increased rotation time and yield at each grazing event. Annual yield increased when residue was reduced from 6 to 3 in, but declined if residue was reduced to 1.5 in. As residue height was reduced, the date at which pastures were ready to be grazed the following spring became later. The primary effect of grazing mature forage was to increase the rotation time, increase the yield at each grazing event, and reduce forage nutritive value. Grazing in the spring when grass is short had little effect on pasture productivity during the remainder of the growing season. Grazing drought-stressed grass during the summer had the most detrimental effect because productivity was reduced after growing conditions improved in late summer and fall. Grazing in the fall just before growth was halted by cold temperatures had no effect on pasture productivity the following year.