Dairy Breed, Grass-Birdsfoot Trefoil Mixture, and Pasture Nutrition Effects on Intake, Feed Efficiency and Grazing Adaptation

This webinar, by Michael Greenland of Utah State University, took place on May 6, 2022.

About the Webinar

Dairy cattle have lower dry matter intake (DMI) on pastures, leading to less weight gain and milk production than feedlot cows. A study was conducted to determine whether different dairy breeds are better adapted to lower or higher quality pastures as measured in DMI and feed efficiency. The eight treatments consisted of Jersey, Holstein, Holstein-Jersey crossbreds, and 3-breed crossbreds (MontbĂ©liarde-Swedish Red-Holstein) heifers on grass monocultures and grass-BFT mixtures. We observed greater DMI on grass-BFT mixtures. Among breeds, Holstein had the greatest DMI, then the two crossbreds, and Jersey had the least. Feed efficiency was most favorable for Jersey, less efficient for both crossbreds, and Holsteins showed variable results depending upon efficiency measure. Throughout a 3.5-day grazing period, DMI declined for all breeds similarly on both pasture-types. In addition, we found no breed was superior to another on mixed or monoculture pasture, suggesting that no breed had an advantage on higher quality (grass-BFT mixture or early grazing period) or lower quality (grass monoculture or late grazing period) forage. These findings can help pasture dairy producers increase production and cost effectiveness as they choose forage and breeds that increase DMI and feed efficiency. Learn more about the research at https://eorganic.info/dairyforages

Michael Greenland is graduating with a Masters of Science Degree in Plant Science from Utah State University. 

Funding for this research was provided by Western SARE and NIFA OREI.

Published May 11, 2022

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.