Effect of daily herbage allowance restriction on pasture characteristics and milk production by grazing dairy cows in spring
Abstract The cumulative effects of daily herbage allowance (DHA) restriction on pasture characteristics and the sustainability of pasture-based dairy systems were evaluated. Sixty-four dairy cows were randomly assigned to one of two grazing treatments (20 and 30 kg DM cow-1 day-1). Milk yield and pre- and post-grazing herbage mass were recorded for every grazing event. Botanical and chemical compositions of the pasture were evaluated. Low DHA increased the stocking rate by 0.7 cows ha-1 and consequently increased grazing efficiency from 41 to 47%. Daily herbage allowance restriction did not affect pasture characteristics or milk production per cow, but DHA restriction increased milk production per hectare (+27%). The results suggest that restriction on daily herbage allowance ensures a higher level of herbage utilization and milk output per ha than high DHA, without affecting pasture characteristics. Therefore, DHA might be a useful grazing management tool for improving the profitability and sustainability of grazing-based dairy systems.