Quantifying Seasonal Nutritional Quality Changes in Managed Pastures
Understanding seasonal changes in forage quality is essential for proper supplementation of lactating dairy cattle in rotational grazing systems.
Objectives: 1) To monitor forage quality changes over the course of a grazing season, 2) to learn which forage mixes allow for effective management of summer slumps, and 3) to develop an easy method to estimate standing forage quantity and quality.
The producer and two neighbors have been working with their county extension educator for three years by taking weekly samples from pastures in rotational grazing systems, conducting wet chemistry analysis on the samples, and equating milk production to forage quality.
Results: Early data confirm the direct relationship between seasonal changes in forage quality, supplementation and milk production. Data also show that some breeds of dairy cattle are more sensitive to changes in forage quality than others. The project was extended for six months to compile and analyze data.