Choosing grasses for lactating and dry dairy cows Farmers ...

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Choosing grasses for lactating and dry dairy cows Farmers ...

Choosing grasses for lactating

and dry dairy cows

Ev Thomas

William H. Miner Agricultural Research

Institute, Chazy, NY

FarmersFarmers selection criteria for

forage grasses

Whatever he seeded last year.

“What What do you have in stock?” stock?

“What What do you have that’s that s cheap?” cheap?

Grasses vs. legumes: Water

soluble nutrients

Nitrogen application to grass: Not much left

after the first harvest following application.

Chloride application to grass: In Miner

Institute field trials, essentially 100%

chloride uptake in the following harvest.

FarmersFarmers selection criteria for

corn

University trial results.

Seed company trial results.

Field day experiences.

Seed catalog descriptions.

Genetic traits needed.

Results from past years experiences.

What’s What s doing well for his neighbors.

Legume vs. grass: There is a

difference! (Duh)

Forage legumes have tap roots that reach

deep into the soil profile.

Grasses have dense, relatively shallow root

systems.

Grasses are much more efficient in nutrient

uptake—this uptake this can either be good or bad.

Legumes vs. grasses: K

Grasses are much more efficient in K uptake

than forage legumes.

Grasses will thrive and accumulate ~2.5% K

at available soil K levels that will starve

alfalfa to death. A problem in producing

grasses for dry cows!

1


Timothy

+ High yield, above average forage quality.

+ Wide adaptation to varying soil types.

+ Tolerant of ice sheets.

+ The only species many horse owners

recognize.

- Poor drought resistance, but often “goes goes to

sleep” sleep even during a wet summer.

- A bunchgrass—less bunchgrass less soil protection.

Orchardgrass

+ High yield, drought tolerant.

+ Better summer production than most.

- Can winterkill under extreme conditions.

- Susceptible to ice sheet injury.

- Poorly adapted to wet soils.

- Loses quality quickly.

- A bunchgrass, less soil protection.

Reed canarygrass

+ Well adapted to wet soils: Very tough sod.

+ Wide adaptation to many soil drainage

classes.

+ Very long stand life.

+ Will handle very high manure rates.

- Slow germination and seedling growth.

- Loses quality quickly after heading.

2


Tall fescue

+ Tolerant of moist to wet soils & flooding.

+ High yield and good winter survival.

- Past problems of low quality forage,

especially during the summer.

- Endophyte fungus can cause livestock

problems. Low endophyte or endophyte-free

endophyte free

varieties are now available from most seed

companies.

Bromegrass

+ High yield potential, long stand life.

+ Holds quality well at more mature stages.

+ Good cold and drought tolerance.

+ A sod-former sod former—fills fills in bare areas.

- Light, fluffy seed doesn’t doesn t work in many grain

drills and seeders.

- Not tolerant of wet soils and intensive

harvest management.

Perennial ryegrass

+ High yield under intensive management.

+ Fast establishment.

+ Good forage quality.

- Poor heat, cold, & drought resistance.

- Rapid quality loss after heading.

- Relatively short-lived short lived in some environments.

3


. Festulolium

Grass variety differences

within a species

5 varieties each of 3 grass species.

Harvested 6 x at ~28 day intervals.

48-hr 48 hr NDF digestibility.

Yield similar across species: 5-6 5 6 tons

DM/acre.

NDF almost identical across species—48%.

species 48%.

Cornell University

Grass variety and species

differences

Quality differences exist between species:

Timothy higher in NDF-d NDF d than orchardgrass.

In the Cornell trial timothy and orchardgrass

had similar ADF and NDF.

Fiber digestibility differences between

varieties of the same species are minimal

at the same stage of maturity. maturity

New kid on the block, a hybrid of Italian

ryegrass and meadow fescue.

+ In Penn State trials, one variety held up

well for three years.

- In Penn State trials, three varieties

yielded very poorly in the third year.

- Poor winter survival with low snow cover.

Grass variety differences

within a species

Orchardgrass

Tall Fescue

Ryegrass

48-hr 48 hr NDF-d NDF

77.5

77.5

80.4

NDF-d NDF d

varietal

difference.

High to low,

%

Cornell University

14

16

22

Digestible

NDF/A.

Varietal

difference,

%

Grass potassium content

Cornell Univ. rankings,

~1995

Lowest to highest

Bromegrass

Tall fescue

Timothy

Reed canarygrass

Orchardgrass

10

10

23

Cornell Univ. 2003 trial,

boot stage

Lowest to highest

Timothy

Reed canarygrass

Bromegrass

Tall fescue

Perennial ryegrass

Orchardgrass

4


K concentration: Variety may

be as important as species… species

2003 Cornell University grass trial

Expected Expected

Variety % K ranking

Palaton reed canarygrass 3.1 2

Baradana orchardgrass 3.3 6

Chazy timothy 3.3 1

Bravo bromegrass 3.4 3

Festival tall fescue 3.5 4

BAR Lp 9132 perennial ryegrass 3.6 5

The solution, for what it’s it s

worth… worth

We can’t can t generalize. In general, more

quality differences between species than

varieties within species. But… But

…there there are huge differences in maturity

(heading date) in some but not all species.

Palatability is important for dry cows, so

look at NDF and NDF-d NDF d as well as % K.

Ryegrass heading dates

Bastion

Citadel

Garibaldi

Quartet

Lp9132

2005

May 24

May 31

June 3

June 6

June 13

Central NY State

2004

May 15

May 23

May 23

May 26

June 9

2003

May 22

May 26

June 2

June 6

June 11

and and grasses differ in

% NDF at similar K levels.

2003 Cornell University grass trial

Variety & species % K % NDF

Palaton reed canarygrass 3.1 63

Baradana orchardgrass 3.3 54

Chazy timothy 3.3 58

Bravo bromegrass 3.4 58

Festival tall fescue 3.5 52

BAR Lp 9132 perennial ryegrass 3.6 50

Heading date

Just as head emerges

from the “boot boot”.

Forage progresses

from late boot stage to

fully headed in a few

days.

Forage quality starts to

decline rapidly after

heading.

“When When you see the

head, the quality is

dead.” dead.

Orchardgrass heading dates

Potomac

Benchmark

BAR BTR 9G

Stampede

Baradana

Intensiv

2005

May 18

May 18

May 18

May 20

May 24

May 24

Central NY State

2004

May 11

May 12

May 13

May 12

May 13

May 18

2003

May 14

May 14

May 14

May 16

May 20

May 26

5


Reed canarygrass heading

dates

Venture

Chiefton

Palaton

Vantage

2005

May 31

May 31

June 1

June 3

Central NY State

Central NY State

2004

May 21

May 21

May 21

May 23

The extremes: Species x

variety heading dates

Potomac

orchardgr

Barmidi

timothy

Days

difference

2005

May 18

June 10

23

2004

May 11

June 11

31

Grass NDF, head fully

emerged

Extend orch. orch

Bull tall fescue

Bastion RG

Palaton RCG

Summit tim. tim.

Harvest date

May 20

May 20

May 25

May 25

May 27

Central NY State

2003

May 30

May 30

May 30

May 30

2003

May 14

June 19

36

NDF, %

65

61

61

71

68

Timothy heading dates

Summit

Climax

Chazy

Express

Barmidi

2005

May 27

May 27

May 30

June 2

June 10

Central NY State

Central NY State

2004

May 20

May 22

May 21

May 27

June 11

2003

May 27

June 16

June 2

June 10

June 19

Grass NDF at the boot stage,

2004

Bastion ryegr

Select Tfescue

Bravo brome

Intensiv orch

Sunset tim

Palaton RCG

Boot stage

May 15

May 16

May 16

May 18

May 20

May 21

NDF, %

50

59

64

60

63

68

Selecting the right grass for a

legume-grass legume grass seeding

All the considerations for selecting a grass

species/variety plus matching the heading

dates of the grass and alfalfa.

Select the grass species, then choose one of

the latest-maturing latest maturing varieties within that

species.

6


Summary:

1. Grasses differ greatly in NDF-d within a species.

2. This is due almost entirely to maturity differences.

3. Grasses differ in %K between species, but variety

differences within species can be about as great.

4. At similar % K there can be a big NDF difference

between species. So for dry cow forages don’t focus

only on K.

5. Heading dates can vary by one month depending on

species and variety.

7

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