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

Liveweight gain and urinary nitrogen excretion of dairy heifers grazing perennial ryegrass-white clover pasture, canola, and wheat

L. Cheng A B , J. McCormick A , C. Logan A , H. Hague A , M. C. Hodge A and G. R. Edwards A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, PO Box 85084, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand.

B Corresponding author. Email: paul.cheng@lincoln.ac.nz; grant.edwards@lincoln.ac.nz

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15533
Submitted: 1 September 2015  Accepted: 13 December 2015   Published online: 25 February 2016

Abstract

This study was carried out to examine liveweight gain (LWG), urinary nitrogen (N) concentration, and urinary N excretion of dairy heifers grazing perennial ryegrass-white clover pasture, dual-purpose wheat and dual-purpose canola. A temporal replicate design with two replicates was used to conduct the study. A total of 24–30 Friesian × Jersey heifers, aged 9–11 months were allocated into three dietary treatment groups (pasture, canola, and wheat) according to their initial LW (184 ± 7.0 kg; mean ± s.d.) and breeding worth (NZ$142 ± 11.3; mean ± s.d.). Feed was allocated every 4 days with allowance calculated according to feed requirement for maintenance plus 0.8 kg LWG/day. The LWG over the 26–28-day experimental period was higher (P < 0.001) for heifers grazing wheat (0.66 kg/day) and canola (0.53 kg/day) than pasture (0.35 kg/day). After the experimental period, heifers were grazed together in one herd on pasture. The LWG over the 28–44-day carryover period was higher (P < 0.001) in canola (0.86 kg/day) than wheat (0.57 kg/day) and pasture (0.61 kg/day). The concentration of urinary N was lower (P = 0.017) in canola (0.21%) and wheat (0.24%) than pasture (0.35%). Estimated urinary N excretion was lower (P < 0.001) in canola (52.5 g/day) and wheat (59.1 g/day) than pasture (98.9 g/day). Data suggest that grazing canola and wheat compared with pasture may improve heifer LWG and potentially reduce N losses to the environment by reducing the N loading of urine patches.

Additional keywords: brassica, carryover effect, cereal, dual-purpose crop, greenhouse gas emissions, urine patch.


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