Tropical Grasslands (1997) Volume 31, 135–144

An evaluation of kikuyu-clover pastures as a dairy production system.
3. Dynamics of pasture composition and diet selection


1Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Kairi Research Station, Kairi, and
2Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
2Current address: University of Queensland, Gatton College, Lawes, Queensland, Australia


A dairy system based on irrigated, perennial kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum) cv. Whittet — white clover (Trifolium repens) cv. Haifa pasture was compared at various stocking rates and nitrogen (N) fertiliser rates in a 3-year experiment. In the final year, observations were taken on 4 treatments comprising: 2.5 cows/ha, 0 kg/ha N; 3.75 cows/ha, 150 kg/ha N; 5 cows/ha, 150 kg/ha N; and 5 cows/ha, 600 kg/ha N. Daily milk yield, and pasture on offer, pasture composition and diet selection on Days 0, 2, 5 and 7 of a 7 day grazing, 21 day spelling rotation were measured.
Milk yields ranged from 10.6–15.5 kg/d in May (P < 0.01) and from 16.9–21.7 kg/d in October (P < 0.05). Peak milk yield occurred on Day 3 of the grazing cycle in May and Day 4 in October, with increases of 1.85 and 0.75 kg/d, respectively, relative to milk yield at the start of the cycle.
Clover % in the diet (DCLOV%) on the first day of the grazing cycle was the factor most closely related to milk yield (MY; kg/d). The across-seasons equation, where MONTH = 0 for May and 1 for October, was:
MY (kg/d) = 11.77 + 3.94 MONTH + 0.069 DCLOV %
(R2 = 0.84; P < 0.001).
Clover % in the diet (DCLOV%) was most related to pasture clover yield on offer (PCLOVY) with declining coefficients of selection for each day of the rotation. Dietary crude protein % declined linearly with day of the rotation at approximately 1.4% per day, and calcium and magnesium selected from pasture were also observed to decrease with day of the grazing cycle.

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