Dry matter availability, nutritive value, and forage intake in elephantgrass pasture in different seasons of the year

The study was carried out on elephantgrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schum.) pasture, from February 1999 to November 2001, in order to evaluate the dry matter (DM) availability, observing the height of the stubble; chemical composition; in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD), and dry matter intake (DMI), using Holstein x Zebu lactating cows, during different seasons of the year. The paddocks were managed in a rotational grazing system, with 30 days of resting period and three days of occupation. Nutritive value and DM availability were monthly evaluated and the DMI was measured ten times during the experimental period. During dry season, cows were supplemented with corn silage during the milking intervals. The highest DM availability was estimated in December (3,402kg/ha). From May to September, values ranged from 558 to 1,122kg/ha, showing the strong seasonality on DM production. Means of crude protein and IVDMD did not differ among summer, autumn, and spring, but were lower during the winter. Means of neutral detergent fiber were lower in summer, autumn, and spring and higher during the winter. The pasture DMI were higher in summer, autumn, and spring and lower in the winter, due to low availability of elephantgrass. However, total DMI did not differ among seasons due to the corn silage supplementation during the winter season.

elephantgrass; chemical composition; digestibility; intake; dry matter; hand-plucked samples

Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Escola de Veterinária Caixa Postal 567, 30123-970 Belo Horizonte MG - Brazil, Tel.: (55 31) 3409-2041, Tel.: (55 31) 3409-2042 - Belo Horizonte - MG - Brazil
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