Effects of cattle grazing on herbage quality in a herbaceous Mediterranean rangeland

Z. Henkin, E. D. Ungar, L. Dvash, A. Perevolotsky, Y. Yehuda, M. Sternberg, H. Voet, S. Y. Landau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The main objective of this study was to determine to what extent grazing pressure and timing modulate the seasonal progression of herbage quality in hilly Mediterranean grassland systems. The study was conducted during six consecutive years between 2003 and 2008 at the Karei Deshe experimental farm, in eastern Galilee, Israel, dominated by rich hemicryptophytic grassland. Treatments included two different grazing intensities, heavy and moderate, with 1·1 and 0·55 cows ha-1, respectively, and management that included a continuous and a seasonal stocking system that was divided at both intensities into early and late grazing. Herbage samples were analysed for digestibility, crude protein, neutral detergent fibre and acid detergent fibre contents. Significant differences in herbage quality were found between seasons and years. Herbage quality was significantly higher in paddocks grazed continuously or early in the season. Herbage quality increased with increasing grazing intensity as younger herbage and continued re-growth were maintained during the green season. The greater difference between herbage qualities was found at the peak of the growing season. The significant differences found in herbage quality emphasize the importance of the decision-making process aimed at improving cattle grazing management in Mediterranean rangelands and its consequences for the sustainability of the system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-525
Number of pages10
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Volume66
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2011

Keywords

  • Acid detergent fibre
  • Digestibility
  • Grazing system
  • Near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy
  • Neutral detergent fibre
  • Protein
  • Stocking rate

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