Selecting for nutritive value in Digitaria milanjiana. 4. Milk production from an elite genotype compared with Digitaria eriantha ssp. pentzii (pangola grass)
KF Lowe, RJ Moss, RT Cowan, DJ Minson and JB Hacker
Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
31(5) 603 - 608
An elite genotype of Digitaria milanjiana, which had been selected on the basis of improved leaf digestibility, was compared with pangola grass (Digitaria eriantha ssp. pentzii, formerly Digitaria decumbens) in terms of milk production, at Mutdapilly in south-eastem Queensland. Unsupplemented Holstein-Friesian cows grazed nitrogen-fertilised, irrigated swards of 2 grasses using a switch-back experimental design. Pasture management and stocking rate were adjusted to provide the animals with 15 kg of green leaf (on a dry matter basis) per cow per day, so that any differences in milk yield could be attributed to differences in leaf quality rather than to total dry matter yield. Cows grazing the selected genotype produced 0.9 kg more milk, 0.07 kg more butterfat and 0.05 kg more protein per cow per day (5.8, 13.0 and 10.9%, respectively) than those grazing pangola grass. These increases were associated with a small increase in leaf digestibility, a faster rate of breakdown of leaf (in an artificial masticator) and a higher proportion of leaf in the diet chosen by the cows grazing the selected genotype. The results of this experiment demonstrate that a tropical grass selected on the basis of digestibility increased milk production of grazing cows. However, factors other than higher digestibility (such as leafiness) contributed to the improvement in production over that from pangola grass.
Full text doi:10.1071/EA9910603
© CSIRO 1991