Chewing behavior of crossbred beef steers on tropical pasture managed at different heights

The chewing behavior of crossbred beef steers grazing pure swards of marandugrass (Brachiaria brizantha Stapf Hoesch cv. Marandu), tanzaniagrass (Panicum maximum Jacq. cv. Tanzânia), and forage peanut (Arachis pintoi cv. Amarillo) as well as a mixed sward of marandugrass plus forage peanut all managed to yield different heights was evaluated in this trial. Paddocks of grasses were managed through grazing to obtain six different heights while those of forage peanut and mixed pasture were lowered by using the intermittent grazing simulation technique. The amount of ingested forage was estimated using the double weighting method. The ingestion rate (IR, g DM/min) was determined according to pasture height (PH) and green leaf mass (GLM), both of which called as the Z variable in the model: IR= IRmax (1 - (1 - e(-K x Z)), where IRmax is the parameter that represents the maximum potential ingestion rate (g DM/min) and k is the parameter that represents the variation in IR per each unit of variation in Z. The IR changed in response to PH for all forages; however, the IR varied in response to GLM only for forage peanut and marandugrass. The IR, as function of PH, averaged 66.49 g DM/min across forages and was more sensitive to variation in PH for forage peanut than for the remaining species (k = 0.09 vs. k = 0.039). The time spent chewing each g DM per bite was greatest for the tanzaniagrass and the mixed sward averaging 3.16 and 2.83 seconds, respectively. Manipulation of marandugrass and forage peanut required 0.8 and 0.68 second, respectively. In order to keep high IR, animals on forage peanut increased the bite rate while those grazing the other forage species enhanced the amount of ingested feed per bite.

biting rate; chewing time; intake per bite; green leaves mass; sward height

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