The effect of bulk density on bite dimensions of cattle grazing microswards in the field

I. A. Casey, A. S. Laidlaw, A. J. Brereton, D. A. McGilloway, S. Watson

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of sward bulk density on bite mass and bite dimensions was examined in two experiments using oesphageally fisulated cows to graze microswards under field conditions. In Experiment 1 microswards of uniform sward height were hand thinned to create differences in sward bulk density. In Experiment 2 plots were sown with monocultures of a range of ryegrass cultivars selected on the basis of their contrasting sward structures to provide a range of sward bulk densities and grazed down in two consecutive strata. Both methods were successful in providing a range of microswards of different sward bulk densities. In Experiment 1 bite mass increased significantly as sward bulk density increased. In Experiment 2 bites taken from the first stratum did not differ significantly in mass due to bites being deeper in swards with low bulk density, compensating for the lower bite bulk density. However, mass of bites taken mainly from the second stratum were lower in some swards due to lower bite bulk density which was related to tiller density rather than sward bulk density. The results emphasize the importance of sward bulk density in determining bite mass and dimensions, especially for the first stratum, and of tiller density in the bulk density of bites in the lower stratum in sward depletion, the latter requiring to be studied further.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-121
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Agricultural Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


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