Pasture Forage for Dairy Cattle

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Title:
Pasture Forage for Dairy Cattle
Physical Description:
Fact sheet
Creator:
Harris, Barney Jr.
Publisher:
University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
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Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Melanie Mercer.
Publication Status:
Published
General Note:
"Original publication date August 1992. Reviewed June 2003."
General Note:
"DS42"

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Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID:
IR00004711:00001


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DS42 Pasture Forage for Dairy Cattle1 Barney Harris, Jr.2 1. This document is DS42, one of a series of the Animal Science Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date August 1992. Reviewed June 2003. Visit the EDIS Web Site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Professor, Dairy Science Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Larry R. Arrington, Interim Dean Grazing dairy cattle on pasture grasses and legumes is a common practice in many areas of the country. Forages (hay, pasture, and silage) play a vital role in meeting the nutrient requirements of dairy cattle and many dairymen may use all three forms of forages. The quality of pasture or green chop forage varies considerably throughout the year. This variation in quality becomes exceedingly important where large quantities of forages are fed. The contribution that pasture forages can make in meeting the nutrient requirements for high producers is affected by both the quality and quantity of forage. Care must be taken to avoid overestimating both the quality and quantity of forage intake or underfeeding may result, causing a drop in milk production. NUTRIENT VALUE OF PASTURE A laboratory analysis is useful in determining the nutrient value of stored feeds. The use of green forages, however, presents a different problem since quality varies with maturity and some plants mature at a rapid rate. Even so, with good knowledge and an accumulation of data from forages being analyzed, the nutrient content of the forage can be estimated fairly close to the real value. The values in Table 1 are averages accumulated from Florida forages which were tested in laboratories. The protein content of forages is easily influenced by the level of fertilization. For this reason, one can anticipate some variation in the protein content as compared to the average figures given in the above table. QUANTITY OF PASTURE CONSUMED After one has arrived at a realistic figure to place on the quality of the forage, the quantity to be fed becomes the next important step. If the forage is green chopped and fed in a bunk, the amount fed per cow can be calculated. Generally, this can be accomplished by either weighing the wagon, estimating the amount on the wagon, or weighing short sections of the forage placed in the bunk and calculating the amount available per cow. In order to have a good feeding program, the dairyman needs to know the average forage consumed per cow. Too many dairymen ignore this part of their feeding program. Pasture consumption from grazing may be more difficult to estimate (Table 2). Generally, for high producers receiving grain, consumption will vary

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Pasture Forage for Dairy Cattle 2 from 30 lb to 100 lb per cow per day. The wide variation in consumption is due to pasture quality and the quantity available. Also, season of the year has a great influence on pasture consumption. During the hot summer months, pasture consumption may drop 25 to 40%. The consumption values in Table 2 may be obtained where cows are allowed to graze for one to two hours per day. Cows will obtain their greatest consumption in the first 30 minutes of grazing; by the end of one hour, they will have a good fill. Cows remaining on winter or summer annual grasses beyond one hour will cause danger to the plants by trampling. Dairy cows will usually remain on permanent pastures such as bahia, bermuda, and pangola for longer periods. After establishing an estimated value for the quality and quantity of pasture or green chop being consumed, the formulation may be completed through computer usage or extensive hand calculations.

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Pasture Forage for Dairy Cattle 3 Table 1. A summary of the results obtained in the forage testing program in Tallahassee, FL -hay, silage, and green chop (as fed). Crude DM CP fiber TDN NEL Sample Name Number (%) (%) (%) (%) (Mcal) A. HAY Aeschynoneme 8 87.9 11.5 30.8 43.0 31.5 Alfalfa 32 90.8 16.0 25.8 54.2 45.6 Bahia Argentina 61 91.5 7.0 28.0 45.4 33.4 Pensacola 24 91.0 5.8 28.0 43.5 32.0 Bermuda Alicia 56 90.6 8.6 29.2 44.8 33.2 Callie 58 91.4 9.4 30.7 46.5 35.0 Coastal 417 92.0 8.2 21.5 48.0 40.0 Coastcross 59 90.0 7.8 31.0 45.4 34.2 Unspecified 61 91.0 9.1 29.8 42.5 31.0 Bluestem 45 92.0 4.9 30.0 44.1 32.0 Clover Alyce 49 90.4 11.1 35.6 44.5 31.0 Ladino 2 92.4 7.8 33.0 45.8 32.0 White 2 90.0 11.0 35.8 43.8 30.1 Carpetgrass 7 91.5 6.2 26.6 47.2 36.1 Crabgrass 8 91.8 4.2 32.0 40.0 29.0 Elephant grass (dwarf) 2 90.2 10.8 29.5 58.0 48.0 Hairy Indigo 7 90.0 9.5 36.8 36.0 24.6 Hemarthria Altissima 10 90.0 6.8 32.5 42.6 30.1 Indiangrass 43 91.2 4.6 31.5 45.2 32.5 Maidencane 62 92.1 8.0 30.0 48.5 36.0 Millet 7 91.0 7.2 30.1 46.5 35.1 Oats 23 90.0 7.2 28.0 41.0 38.0 Pangola 166 91.8 5.0 29.9 41.6 29.5 Peanut, forage 6 92.0 8.2 38.3 40.0 31.6 Peanut, Perennial 12 92.0 13.0 24.0 54.0 44.0 Peavine 5 91.4 6.7 39.2 39.0 31.0 Rye 6 92.3 8.2 32.0 47.6 34.4 Ryegrass 8 91.0 9.0 28.0 52.6 40.6 Sorghum Sudan (Sudex) 4 91.0 5.4 32.8 46.2 32.7 Soybean 7 91.0 8.8 33.5 45.1 31.6 Stargrass 8 91.4 7.3 29.1 53.7 43.4 Torpedo 6 91.0 5.5 30.5 47.6 34.6 B. AVERAGE SILAGE ANALYSIS Corn 170 28.0 2.4 7.0 19.1 16.4 Bermuda Callie 15 35.0 2.9 10.1 19.9 15.7 Coastal 5 34.0 2.7 11.3 18.1 14.0 Hermathria 5 31.0 1.2 9.1 17.8 14.0 Millet 7 24.0 1.5 8.4 11.8 9.0

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Pasture Forage for Dairy Cattle 4 Table 1. A summary of the results obtained in the forage testing program in Tallahassee, FL -hay, silage, and green chop (as fed). Crude DM CP fiber TDN NEL Sample Name Number (%) (%) (%) (%) (Mcal) Pangola 13 27.0 2.2 10.0 12.8 9.2 Small Grain Oat 6 31.0 2.6 11.0 18.0 16.0 Rye 4 30.0 2.8 9.7 17.2 13.4 Sorghum, forage 20 28.0 2.1 8.0 15.0 13.5 Sorghum, grain 64 28.0 2.3 7.6 17.0 15.0 Sorghum, Sudan (Sudex) 28 23.0 2.7 7.6 13.0 10.0 C. AVERAGE GREEN CHOP ANALYSIS Aeschynoneme 4 31.2 5.1 12.1 14.5 13.0 Alfalfa 4 18.0 3.6 5.7 9.1 7.0 Hermathria grass 14 29.0 2.5 9.1 15.4 11.6 Bahia 6 25.0 2.6 7.3 14.6 12.0 Bermuda 7 27.0 4.0 9.0 15.0 12.0 Elephant grass (dwarf) 2 20.0 2.4 8.0 12.5 10.6 Maidencane 11 35.0 3.0 12.9 16.0 14.0 Millet 2 15.0 1.5 4.7 7.6 5.8 Rye 3 20.0 3.0 5.1 12.8 11.0 Sorghum Sudan 2 20.2 1.5 6.7 10.2 7.5 Torpedo 2 34.0 4.0 10.3 17.2 15.4 Wheat 2 26.0 3.3 6.8 18.0 16.5 Table 2. Estimated pasture consumption per day (as fed). Pasture Condition Pasture Forage Excellent* (lbs) Good** (lbs) Fair*** (lbs) Scanty**** (lbs) Bahia 70 50 30 20 Bermuda 75 60 35 25 Clovers 90 70 45 30 Millet 90 70 50 30 Oats 90 70 50 30 Rye 90 70 50 30 Pangola 75 60 35 20 Ryegrass 90 65 40 25 Sudex 90 70 50 30 *A pasture furnishing an abundance of lush, actively palatable forage.