Grazing preferences by dairy cows for 14 forage species.
Horadagoda A, Fulkerson WJ, Nandra KS and Barchia IM (2009) Grazing preferences by dairy cows for 14 forage species. Animal Production Science, 49: 586-594.
Available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA08299
Eight grass, four legume and two herb species were grown in specific plots for 2 years to quantify the grazing preference of dairy cows. The tests comprised observing the forage being grazed at 10-s intervals for 1 h. The cow preference was recorded as time (min) spent grazing on each forage species. The most preferred species over the whole year was prairie grass (11.6 min) followed by kikuyu (10.5 min) and then white clover (9.6 min), despite the fact that kikuyu was not available in winter. Fescue (3.2 min) was the least preferred grass species. A prediction equation comprising water soluble carbohydrates and nitrate-nitrogen over all seasons and forage species was developed and these factors accounted for more variation in cow preference than any other single or combination of variables measured. The results indicate that the relative palatability of forages can be reasonably well predicted from soluble carbohydrates and nitrate-nitrogen concentration, having a positive and negative effect on cow preference, respectively. The prediction equation was improved if neutral detergent fibre was included.