Efficiency of Utilization of Tropical Grass Pastures by Lactating Cows with and Without Supplement


Dairy cattle--Feeding and feeds--Puerto Rico
Dairy cattle--Tropics

How to Cite

Yazman, J. A., McDowell, R. E., Cestero, H., Arroyo-Aguilú, J. A., Rivera-Anaya, J. D., Soldevila, M., & Román-García, F. (1982). Efficiency of Utilization of Tropical Grass Pastures by Lactating Cows with and Without Supplement. The Journal of Agriculture of the University of Puerto Rico, 66(3), 200-222. https://doi.org/10.46429/jaupr.v66i3.7667


Records of milk yield, fat percent, body weight, reproduction and health of 506 calvings of 362 cows were used for estimating the efficiency of utilization of tropical grass pastures by lactating cows fed on grazing alone or grazing with various types of supplement. There were seven feeding systems: grazing alone (T1); grazing plus supplement with ground maize (T2); with molasses (T3); with concentrate (T5); or with urea-molasses (T6), at the rate of 1.0 kg per 2.0 kg milk in excess of 10 kg of milk per day and of 2.5 cows per ha; or grazing plus concentrate feeding of 1.0 kg per 2.0 kg milk irrespective of milk yield at a stocking rate either of 2.5 cows (T4) or 5-0 cows (T7) per ha. All supplement systems had significantly higher yields of milk, fat and fat-corrected milk than grazing alone. Level of fat percent paralleled dependence on intake of forage. Supplement also extended days in milk. System of feeding was significant for body weight gain, time to reach peak milk yield, the level of peak yield, persistency of milk yield, days open, time from first breeding to conception, and calving interval. High levels of supplement (T4, T7) increased weight gains, time to reach peak yield, and persistency, but lowered breeding efficiency. On medium levels (T3, T5, T6), the efficiency (Meal/kg dry matter) of utilization of supplement for milk production was satisfactory, but unsatisfactory on high supplement levels (T4, T7). Supplements as high or higher than those in the grass treatments supplemented with non-protein nitrogen (urea-molasses) or crude protein (concentrate) gave a more efficient utilization than either maize or molasses. During the first 150 days of lactation, cows on grazing alone averaged 14.3 kg pasture grass dry matter intake per day, or 2.9% of body weight. Cows on low supplement (T2, T3, T5, T6) averaged 24 to 29% less; and cows on high supplement, nearly 60% less intake. Type of supplement had little influence on pasture grass dry matter (PGDM) intake. When the genetic potential for milk yield of cows exceeds 3,000 kg, supplementary feeding appears economically feasible. Even under the high levels of nitrogen fertilization employed, there was a rise in average milk yield with intakes of protein from the supplementary feed. Supplementary feeding with tropical grass pastures caused a high rate of substitution; hence, the efficiency of use of PGDM is lowered unless stocking rate is carefully adjusted.



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