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Effect of defoliation management, based on leaf stage, on perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), prairie grass (Bromus willdenowii Kunth.) and cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.) under dryland conditions: 2. Nutritive value

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 16:33 authored by Lydia TurnerLydia Turner, Donaghy, DJ, Peter Lane, Richard RawnsleyRichard Rawnsley
A field experiment was undertaken between April 2003 and May 2004 in southern Tasmania, Australia, to quantify and compare changes in the nutritive value of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), prairie grass (Bromus willdenowii Kunth.) and cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.) under a defoliation regime based on stage of leaf regrowth. Defoliation interval was based on the time taken for two, three or four leaves per tiller to fully expand. At every defoliation event, samples were collected and analysed for acid-detergent fibre (ADF), neutral-detergent fibre (NDF) and total nitrogen (N) concentrations and to estimate metabolizable energy (ME) and digestible dry matter (DDM) concentrations. Amounts of crude protein (CP) and metabolizable energy (MJ) per hectare values were subsequently calculated. There was a significantly lower (P < 0.001) NDF concentration for perennial ryegrass compared with prairie grass and cocksfoot, and a significantly lower (P < 0.001) ADF concentration for cocksfoot compared with prairie grass and perennial ryegrass, regardless of defoliation interval. The CP concentration of cocksfoot was significantly greater (P < 0.001) compared with the CP concentrations of prairie grass and perennial ryegrass. The estimated ME concentrations in cocksfoot were high enough to satisfy the requirements of a lactating dairy cow, with defoliation at or before the four-leaf stage maintaining ME concentrations between 10.7 and 10.9 MJ kg-1 DM, and minimizing reproductive plant development. The ME concentrations of prairie grass (10.2-10.4 MJ kg-1 DM) were significantly lower (P < 0.001) than for cocksfoot (as above) and perennial ryegrass (11.4-11.6 MJ kg-1 DM) but a higher DM production per hectare resulted in prairie grass providing the greatest amounts of ME ha-1. © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Dairy Australia Limited


Publication title

Grass and Forage Science








Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


Blackwell Publishing

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd,

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Sown pastures (excl. lucerne)

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