Milk production and ingestive behavior of cows grazing on Marandu and Mulato II pastures under rotational stocking


ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to evaluate milk production and ingestive behavior of Holstein cows and the structural characteristics of Mulato II, a hybrid Brachiaria grass CIAT 36087 (B. ruziziensis × B. decumbens × B. brizantha), and Marandu (Brachiaria brizantha cv. Marandu) pastures under rotational stocking. The experiment was conducted from December 2011 to April 2012 after 10 months of adaptation to the grazing management objectives (25 cm pre-grazing height and 15-20 cm post-grazing height). An area of 4 ha was divided into 28 paddocks: 14 with Mulato II pasture and 14 with Marandu pasture. The treatments consisted of the two grasses and a completely randomized design of the grazing variables with six repetitions each (paddock of evaluation) was used. For the animal variables, a randomized matched pairs design of 20 Holstein cows forming 10 blocks of two animals with similar production each was used. The forage mass or accumulation rate did not differ between grasses. Mulato II pastures had a higher tiller population density (822 tillers m−2) and crude protein content (143.5 g kg−1) than Marandu pastures (636 tillers m−2 and 130.3 g kg−1 crude protein). Cows kept on Mulato II exhibited shorter nighttime grazing activity (234 and 246 min in summer and autumn, respectively) than animals kept on Marandu (273 and 394 min, respectively). The average milk yield during the experimental period was higher for Mulato II (15.3 kg cow−1 day−1) compared with Marandu (14.3 kg cow−1 day−1). Both grasses have potential to be used in milk production systems for the grazing management objectives evaluated.



Brachiaria, dairy cow, nutritional value, milk composition, pasture, tropical forage