Effect of supplementation and resting period on forage quality and voluntary intake of elephantgrass grazed by lactating Holstein × Zebu cows

Mean daily dry matter intake of elephantgrass (DMI) (Pennisetum purpureum, Schumack) in a rotational grazing with lactating Holstein × Zebu cows was estimated in a trial carried out from February to September. The pasture was divided into paddocks and grazed for three days by 24 cows randomly allotted to four treatments. The treatments consisted on grazing intervals of 30 days, and concentrate (2kg/cow/day) and grazing intervals of 30, 36 or 45 days without concentrate. From February to May the elephantgrass was the only roughage, but from June to September (dry season) the cows were fed on chopped sugarcane plus 1% urea. DMI was estimated monthly using the extrusa in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) and the fecal output (chromium oxide). The average chemical composition of extrusa was generally similar (P>.05) among grazing intervals (6.1 to 18.2% of CP; 63.5 to 81.4% of NDF; 32.7 to 47.6% of ADF and 43.7 to 72.9% of IVDMD). The CP content of extrusas decreased and the NDF and ADF contents increased (P<.0001) with the paddock occupation day. In the rainy season the DMI (1.68 to 3.57% BW) and daily NDF intake (1.14 to 2.67%BW) were generally similar (P>.05) among grazing intervals. During the dry season cows fed on treatments without concentrate the DMI varied from .39 to 2.2%BW and its contribution to total DM intake decresead from 52% in the first to 43% in the third day of paddock occupation. Sugarcane intake effectively minimized the effects of the low pasture intake in the dry season.

sugarcane; in vitro digestibility; marker; grazing interval; chromium oxide

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