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UWRF Researchers Present Results at 2007 Wisconsin Grazing Conference

FEB. 9, 2007--Wisconsin farmers now have a new tool to help them manage and feed their grazing animals, thanks to research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and introduced at the Wisconsin Grazing Conference in Stevens Point Feb. 2-3.

A computer program that calculates how much pasture forage dairy cows consume each day was introduced by Dennis Cooper, a professor in the Animal and Food Science Department, and Dennis Cosgrove, a professor in the Plant and Earth Science Department, respectively.

The spreadsheet program was developed in connection with a research project conducted by the two professors who are also cooperative extension specialists based in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences (CAFES).

The project was funded by a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant and was conducted over a three-year period on seven Wisconsin dairy farms that employ management-intensive rotational grazing (MIRG) to feed their cows.

In the study, pasture forage consumption by grazing dairy cows was estimated using four different methods. Three of the methods - clipping, pasture plate and pasture height - involve measurements of the amount of grass on a small area of land before and after the land is grazed. The fourth method - energy balance - involves calculating the amount of forage the cow must consume to account for her milk production.

"Of the four methods, the energy balance method was the most consistent and least variable in estimating pasture forage consumption," says Cooper. "On the other hand, the pasture height method was the least consistent and most variable. In addition, the pasture height method produced much higher intake estimates than the other three."

Based on these results, the computer spreadsheet calculator was developed to help farmers use the energy balance method on their individual farms.

Called the "Pasture Forage DMI Calculator," the program is still being adapted for producers to use and should be ready by spring. The plan is to work with the Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service's Team Forage and offer the calculator through local county cooperative extension offices.

For more information contact Dennis Cooper, Ph.D., at 715-425-3704, ; or Dennis Cosgrove, Ph.D., 715-425-3989, .



Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:07:58 Central Daylight Time


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