Kikuyu is well adapted to the main milk producing areas of the Southern Cape region of South Africa. The strategic incorporation of different types of temperate grasses into kikuyu pastures can increase the seasonal dry matter production, pasture quality, and milk production attainable from these pastures. To determine whether there is production and economical differences between kikuyu based pasture systems, a trial was conducted on the Outeniqua Research Farm near George. The three pasture treatments, namely italian, westerwold, and perennial ryegrass over-sown into kikuyu, were tested. Forty-five Jersey cows were blocked and cows within blocks were randomly allocated to the treatments. The cows received 9 kilograms of pasture (on a dry matter basis) per cow per day, and four kilograms of concentrate per cow per day. Milk production was recorded daily, and milk composition was determined monthly. The cows were weighed and body condition scored monthly. The perennial ryegrass pasture treatment had a higher milk production per hectare (32288 kg/ha) than the westerwold ryegrass pasture treatment (29761 kg/ha) but did not differ from the italian ryegrass pasture treatment (30446 kg/ha). The italian ryegrass pasture treatment had a higher milk protein percentage than the perennial ryegrass pasture treatment (3.84% vs. 3.64%) but did not differ from the westerwold ryegrass pasture treatment (3.75%). When the three pasture treatments were economically compared, the italian ryegrass pasture treatment had the highest margin over specified costs per hectare (R 36,565.03), followed by the perennial (R 33,889.14) and westerwold (R 29,468.09) ryegrass pasture treatments. From the results it seems that the italian ryegrass pasture treatment is the best choice for a kikuyu based pasture system in the Southern Cape region of South Africa. A high level of concentrate supplementation could increase energy intake of grazing dairy cows, but might also reduce fibre digestion within the rumens of high producing dairy cows. To test this hypothesis, two trials were conducted, one during October and November 2007, and the other during March 2008. In both trials twelve rumen cannulated cows were allocated to four groups. Two groups were allocated to each pasture treatment, namely perennial and westerwold ryegrass over-sown into kikuyu. Within each pasture treatment, one group received 4 kg of concentrate per cow per day, and the other 8 kg of concentrate per day. Pasture was allocated at 9 kg per day (DM). Cows were adapted for ten days, after which ruminal pH, and ammonia nitrogen and volatile fatty acid concentration data was collected. An in sacco study was conducted to determine the neutral detergent fibre degradability. After the data was collected, the two groups within each pasture treatment swapped concentrate levels; were adapted, and the same data as described above was collected. During both trials reductions in ruminal pH were observed when a higher amount of concentrate was supplemented. During the first trial there was a significant increase in the time that the ruminal pH remained below pH 5.8 on the westerwold ryegrass pasture treatment (from 80 minutes when the cows received 4 kg of concentrate per day, to 375 minutes when it was increased to 8 kg of concentrate per day). A decrease in neutral detergent fibre degradability was also seen. During the second trial, the percentage of NDF disappearance decreased from 8.45% over a twelve hour period when 4 kg of concentrate was fed, to 4.51% when 8 kg of concentrate was fed on the perennial ryegrass pasture treatment. From the results it appears that feeding a higher level of concentrate supplementation to high producing dairy cows grazing kikuyu pasture systems has a negative effect on neutral detergent fibre digestion within the rumen. It appears that feeding a moderate level of concentrate supplementation when cows are on pasture based systems is more beneficial to the rumen environment and decreases the possibility of sub-clinical ruminal acidosis when cows grazed ryegrass dominant pastures, but had a less pronounced effect when the dominant pasture specie was kikuyu. Future research could examine the relationship between the level of concentrate supplementation and pasture specie more closely, as it would be interesting to find the optimal ratios for each pasture specie. Copyright
Dissertation (MScAgric)--University of Pretoria, 2010.