Date of Award:

8-2022

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

J. Earl Creech

Committee

J. Earl Creech

Committee

Blair L. Waldron

Committee

S. Clay Isom

Abstract

Dairy cattle have lower dry matter intake (DMI) on pastures thus leading to less weight gain and milk production than feedlot cows. This study was conducted to determine whether different dairy breeds are better adapted to lower or higher quality pastures as measured in DMI and feed efficiency. The eight treatments consisted of Jersey, Holstein, Holstein-Jersey crossbreds, and 3-breed crossbreds (Montbéliarde-Swedish Red-Holstein) heifers on grass monocultures and grass-BFT mixtures. We observed greater DMI on grass-BFT mixtures. Among breeds, Holstein had the greatest DMI, then the two crossbreds, and Jersey had the least. Feed efficiency was most favorable for Jersey, less efficient for both crossbreds, and Holsteins showed variable results depending upon efficiency measure. Throughout a 3.5-day grazing period, DMI declined for all breeds similarly on both pasture-types. In addition, we found no breed was superior to another on mixed or monoculture pasture, suggesting that no breed had an advantage on higher quality (grass-BFT mixture or early grazing period) or lower quality (grass monoculture or late grazing period) forage. These findings can help pasture dairy producers increase production and cost effectiveness as they choose forage and breeds that increase DMI and feed efficiency.

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