Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Supplementation of dairy cows with commercial concentrate or ground maize grain under cut-and-carry or grazing of cultivated pastures in small-scale systems in the highlands of central Mexico

J. Velarde-Guillén A , J. G. Estrada-Flores A , A. A. Rayas-Amor B , F. Vicente C , A. Martínez-Fernández C , D. Heredia-Nava D , M. D. Celis-Alvarez A , I. K. Aguirre-Ugarte A , E. Galindo-González A and C. M. Arriaga-Jordán A E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Instituto de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Rurales (ICAR), Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (UAEMex), Instituto Literario #100, Col. Centro, 50000, Toluca, Estado de México, México.

B Departamento de Ciencias de la Alimentación (DCA), División de Ciencias Biológicas y de la salud (CBS), Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Lerma (UAM-L), Av. Hidalgo poniente #46, Col. La Estación, 52006, Lerma de Villada, Estado de México, México.

C Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario (SERIDA), Carretera Oviedo s/n, 33300 Villaviciosa, Asturias, España.

D Investigador de Cátedras CONACYT, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Centro Universitario de Los Altos (CUALTOS), Universidad de Guadalajara, Carretera a Yahualica, Km. 7.5, C.P. 47600, Tepatitlán de Morelos, Jalisco, México.

E Corresponding author. Email: cmarriagaj@uaemex.mx

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15375
Submitted: 22 July 2014  Accepted: 31 October 2017   Published online: 8 January 2018

Abstract

Small-scale dairy systems (SSDS) in Mexico represent over 78% of dairy farms and 37% of milk production. In the central highlands, many SSDS base the feeding of herds on irrigated cultivated pastures (mostly cut-and-carry), straws, and large amounts of commercial concentrates that result in high feeding costs and low economic sustainability. Intensive grazing may result in lower feeding costs when compared with cut-and-carry strategies. The high protein content of pasture may meet requirements of dairy cows with moderate milk yield (16–20 kg milk/cow.day), so that lower protein supplements, like ground maize grain, may substitute for commercial concentrates. An on-farm experiment following a participatory rural research approach was undertaken with seven farmers evaluating commercial concentrate (CC) or ground maize grain (MG) as supplement; and two pasture managements, grazing (G) or cut-and-carry (C) of irrigated ryegrass/white clover pastures to assess productive performance and feeding costs. Six farmers participated with four milking cows each and one farmer with two groups of four milking cows in a 2 by 2 factorial experiment. Daily milk yield per cow before the experiment was used as covariate. The experiment lasted 12 weeks. There is a trend in G for higher protein content in milk (P < 0.10). CC showed higher body condition score than MG with a significant interaction for body condition score with the highest body condition score in CCC (P < 0.05). Feeding costs were 15% higher per kg of milk yield and 19% per kg of energy-corrected milk under cut-and-carry but no statistical differences were detected (P > 0.05) in comparison with the grazing strategy. Supplementing with home-grown ground maize grain resulted in 28.5% higher margins per kg of milk produced. Implementing grazing involves less work burden for small-scale dairy farmers, and combined with home-grown grains as supplement is a viable option that may reduce feeding costs in these systems.

Additional keywords: feeding costs, ryegrass-white clover pastures, participatory livestock research, rural development.


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