Effects of perennial ryegrass cultivars on milk yield and nitrogen utilization in grazing dairy cows

B.M. Tas, H.Z. Taweel, H.J. Smit, A. Elgersma, J. Dijkstra, S. Tamminga

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The effects of 4 diploid perennial ryegrass cultivars that differed in water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) concentrations on milk yield and nitrogen (N) utilization in dairy cows were evaluated in a 2-yr grazing experiment. Twelve lactating dairy cows were assigned to 1 cultivar for a 2-wk period in a 4 x 4 Latin square design with 3 replicates. Each year, the experiment lasted 8 wk. Swards were in a vegetative stage throughout the experiment. Herbage constituents were determined, and DM intake was estimated with the n-alkane technique. Nitrogen utilization was calculated as N excreted in milk divided by N intake, assuming a zero N retention. Two cultivars had consistently higher WSC concentrations and slightly lower neutral detergent fiber concentrations than the other 2 cultivars. The ranking of the cultivars in chemical composition traits in both years was rather consistent. Cows grazing the cultivar with the lowest concentration of WSC had the lowest herbage DM intake, N intake, milk yield, and milk N yield in 2002, but with a similar difference in WSC concentration, no differences among cultivars were found in 2003. In both years, milk urea N concentration was slightly higher for cows grazing the cultivar with the lowest WSC concentration, although it was significant only in 2003. Nitrogen utilization (N milk:N intake, g/g) varied between 0.241 and 0.246 in 2002 and between 0.190 and 0.209 in 2003, and in both years there was no effect of cultivar. At relatively high N concentrations in grass and only small differences among cultivars in neutral detergent fiber concentrations, cultivars with an elevated WSC concentration did not increase N utilization in grazing dairy cows
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3494-3500
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • water-soluble carbohydrate
  • lolium-perenne
  • herbage intake
  • nutritive-value
  • l. cultivars
  • performance
  • metabolism
  • lactation
  • pasture
  • quality

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