Tropical Grasslands (1996) Volume 30, 15–23

An evaluation of kikuyu-clover pastures as a dairy production system.
2. Milk production and system comparisons


1Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Kairi Research Station,
2Brisbane, and
3Dairy Research Laboratory, Malanda, Queensland, Australia


Milk production from an irrigated, perennial kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum) cv. Whittet — Haifa white clover (Trifolium repens cv. Haifa) — Safari clover (T. semipilosum cv. Safari) pasture was evaluated in 6 treatments, at a range of stocking rates (2.5, 3.75 and 5.0 cows/ha) and nitrogen fertiliser levels (0, 150, 300 and 600 kg/ha N) in an incomplete factorial design. A seventh treatment consisting mainly of annual ryegrass (Lolium spp.) pasture was stocked at 5 cows/ha with 400 kg/ha N (5/ANN). Pastures in the study were stocked continuously over 3 years.
Milk production per cow meaned over the 3 years was 4649 kg at 2.5 cows/ha, 4115 kg at 3.75 cows/ha and 3861 kg at 5 cows/ha on perennial pasture, and 4026 kg at 5 cows/ha on annual pastures. Milk yield per ha (MYH, kg) was linearly related to stocking rate (SR, cows/ha) by the equation: MYH = 3712 + 3153 SR (r2 = 0.63; P < 0.05). Milk yield was not significantly changed by nitrogen fertiliser at 3.75 or 5 cows/ha.
Milk yield per cow (MY) was related to the clover % in the diet (CLD) with CLD in February giving the best prediction for lactation milk yield (MY, kg/cow): MY = 3602 + 47.7 CLD (r2 = 0.42; P < 0.01). There was a trend for cows stocked at 5 cows/ha on kikuyu-clover pasture to be lighter than those on other treatments. Milk protein % (MP) declined with increasing N fertiliser (NF, kg/ha N) input by the equation: MP = 3.03 – 0.0002 NF (r2 = 0.85; P < 0.01).
The lower annual cost of perennial kikuyu-clover pasture, its comparable milk production with an annual ryegrass system and the ability to withstand high stocking rates make it a viable alternative for subtropical dairy systems.

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