REDESIGNING FORAGE GERMPLASM AND PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR EFFICIENCY, PROFIT, AND SUSTAINABILITY OF DAIRY FARMS
Location: Dairy Forage and Aquaculture Research
Title: Grazing management effects on temperate grass growth – what, when, and how much makes a difference
Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 20, 2011
Publication Date: June 12, 2011
Citation: Brink, G.E., Jackson, R.D. 2011. Grazing management effects on temperate grass growth – what, when, and how much makes a difference [CD-ROM]. Berea, Kentucky: American Forage and Grassland Council.
Grazing management significantly impacts pasture productivity and persistence. We determined grass response to residue height when grazed at a vegetative or mature stage, and response to timing of grazing. Meadow fescue, orchardgrass, quackgrass, and reed canarygrass were rotationally grazed when 12 in. tall to a 6, 3, or 1.5 in. residue or when 24 in. tall to a 12, 6, or 3 in. residue. Grasses were also grazed in early May, late July, or late September when 6, 12, or 18 in. tall to a 3 in. residue. During the remainder of the season, grasses were grazed when 12 in. tall to a 3 in. residue. As residue height of vegetative grass was reduced, mean rotation time increased from 24 to 44 days, yield per grazing event increased, but annual yield at a 1.5 in. residue was reduced. A 1.5 in. residue also delayed the start of grazing by two weeks the following spring compared to a 6 in. residue. Reducing residue height of mature grass increased yield only in the spring. Grazing grass at 6 in. height in early May had little effect on productivity during the remainder of the season compared to grazing at 12 in., but grazing at 6 in. in late July during drought reduced productivity during the remainder of the year. Routinely grazing these grasses at vegetative stage to short (< 3 in.) residue height or during the summer drought has the greatest negative impact on pasture productivity.