Comparison of milk production from clover-based and fertilizer-N-based grassland on a clay-loam soil under moist temperate climatic conditions

J. Humphreys, I. A. Casey, A. S. Laidlaw

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31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study, conducted over four years (2003-2006), compared herbage production, nutritive value of herbage, the length of the grazing season and milk production per cow and per hectare from grassland systems based on (i) white clover (average 219 g/kg of herbage DM) (WC) receiving on average N application of 90 kg/ha (s.d. 6.4) in spring and successive 0.2 of the area over-seeded annually with white clover seed and (ii) fertilizer N (FN) input of 226 kg/ha (s.d. 9.7). The stocking density of Holstein-Friesian dairy cows on both systems was 2.0/ha 2003 and 2.2/ha in each of the following three years. There were 22 cows per system in 2003 and 24 cows per system in each of the following three years. Cows calved within a 12 week interval in spring with mean calving date in mid-February. Milk was produced until mid-December each year. Total annual herbage DM production was lower (P < 0.01) on WC than FN (0.92 of FN). There were no (P > 0.05) differences in the in vitro organic matter digestibilities of pre-grazing herbage. The crude protein concentration in pre-grazing herbage DM was higher (P < 0.001) on FN than WC: 219 and 209 (s.e. 8.4.) g/kg, respectively. There were no (P > 0.05) differences in annual production of milk per cow (mean 6524 kg; s.e. 83.9 kg), live-weight or body condition score between the two systems. There were no (P < 0.05) differences in the lengths of the grazing season, which averaged 254 days (s.e. 0.9). Although there was no difference in performance per cow, the higher herbage production indicates that a higher stocking rate and milk output per hectare was possible from FN than WC. Nevertheless, the WC swards supported an annual stocking density of 2.15/ha and a milk output of 14 t/ha.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-207
Number of pages21
JournalIrish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research
Volume48
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • Dairy cows
  • Grassland
  • Milk production
  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • White clover

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