Grass for Dairy Cattle

Article excerpt

Grass for Dairy Cattle

by J. H. Cherney and D.J.R. Cherney (eds). CABI Publishing, 1998, 403 pp., Hardback. $110.00.

The editors of this book took on a substantial task when putting this book together. The diversity of production systems, climates, geographies, technologies and societies imposes a multitude of dimensions on the management of grass/pastures for dairy cattle and economic dairy production. This book combines chapters from specialists in many scientific fields from different countries into a wellbalanced reference source.

Chapter 1 provides some historical background to the research undertaken in the interactions between dairy cattle and the grass forage source. The chapter then continues into the future of grass as a basis for a profitable and sustainable agricultural system that is socially and environmentally sound.

The next two chapters focus on the breeding and section of grass species for regions suited to either cool season grasses or tropical and sub-tropical species. These two chapters and chapters three and four provide much information regarding the productivity of the different types of grasses, factors affecting forage quality and nutritive value, and different ways to manage some of the species discussed.

Chapters six, seven and eight are all concerned with the three critical nutrients in pasture systems, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Each chapter is similar in structure, beginning with a general discussion of the nutrient of interest, then progressing through the level of the nutrient in the soil and its availability to plants, plant requirements for the nutrient and the interaction of the nutrient with other soil elements, and animal requirements for the element. The chapters on nitrogen and phosphorus also discuss the problems arising from excessive amounts of these two nutrients in the dairy system and some sustainability issues arising from the problems associated with these two elements.

Fodder conservation is the topic of the next two chapters. Chapter nine examines the utilization of grass silage as a forage conservation technique in the overall management scheme. Grass baleage or baling grass silage is covered in chapter ten. These two chapters are complementary to a degree in that chapter nine focuses on various factors that can affect the ensiled product and what are the best methods of achieving high quality grass silage. Also included in this chapter is a discussion of the microbiological processes that occur in the ensiling procedure. Chapter ten focuses more on the mechanical aspect of baling the ensilage, such as baler type, driver and baler behavior, methods of wrapping bales, storage of bales, and some economic comparisons of different baleage systems.

Grass growth and utilization are the principal topics of chapter eleven. This chapter begins with a broad scale pasture scheme and progresses through the growth and senescence of the pasture over time. The authors of this chapter introduce several basic models of growth of various plant tissues; these models are then used in explaining the effects of harvesting on the pasture as a whole. The second part of this chapter deals with the utilization of the pasture by the grazing animals. …