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16 July 2014 Kikuyu-based pasture for dairy production: a review
S. C. García, M. R. Islam, C. E. F. Clark, P. M. Martin
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The amount of pasture grown and converted to animal product is closely linked with the profitability of pasture-based systems. Kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum Hochst. ex Chiov.) is the predominant C4 grass in coastal Australian beef and dairy systems. These kikuyu-based production systems face several key challenges to achieving high levels of productivity. In this review, we bring together the literature to highlight the opportunities for closing the gap between current and potential utilisation and for increasing dairy production from kikuyu-based pastures. More specifically, we highlight the significant gains that can be made on kikuyu-based commercial farms based on a conceptual model to show where the main losses originate, namely input and grazing management. The physical limitations associated with kikuyu for dairy systems are also presented, such as the relatively higher content of cell wall and lower content of water-soluble carbohydrates, together with nutrient imbalances relative to other grass species. Together, these limitations clearly indicate the need of supplying cows with supplements (particularly grain-based concentrates) to achieve moderate to high milk yield per cow. To achieve this without compromising pasture utilisation, dairy producers farming on kikuyu-based pastures need to use relatively greater stocking rates to generate enough demand of feed that can be used to align rate of pasture intake with rate of pasture growth, creating enough deficit of feed per cow to justify the addition of supplementary feed without impinging on pasture utilisation. The variability that exists between cows in kikuyu dry matter and neutral detergent fibre intake is also highlighted in this review, opening up new avenues of research that may allow significant productivity gains for kikuyu-based dairy farming in the future.

© CSIRO 2014
S. C. García, M. R. Islam, C. E. F. Clark, and P. M. Martin "Kikuyu-based pasture for dairy production: a review," Crop and Pasture Science 65(8), 787-797, (16 July 2014).
Received: 30 November 2013; Accepted: 1 February 2014; Published: 16 July 2014
dry matter yield
grazing management
milk production
pasture allocation
pasture utilisation
pasture-based dairy
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