Pasture damage and regrowth from cattle treading


  • T.N. Pande
  • I. Valentine
  • K. Betteridge
  • A. Mackay
  • D. Horne



Two experiments were conducted to describe the damage and regrowth of pasture after a single, severe cattle treading event during winter. One experiment was conducted on hill country at AgResearch's Ballantrae Hill Country Research Station, and the other on the No. 4 Dairy Unit at Massey University. Herbage growth rate, canopy cover, tiller density and leaf area index were studied and compared in grazed, cattle-trodden and untrodden (control) pastures. At Ballantrae, the control treatment was sheep-grazed pasture, and at Massey University, it was cattle-grazed, but untrodden pasture under the electric fence. A single cattle treading event on winter-wet soils reduced hill pasture growth rates in spring to 11 kg DM/ha/day compared to 18 kg DM/ha/day in undamaged pasture on slopes, and to 21 kg DM/ ha/day compared to 39 kg DM/ha/day on tracks. Spring dairy pasture growth rate to 7 weeks after treading was 33 kg DM/ha/day compared to 51 kg DM/ha/day in undamaged pasture. Damage reduced canopy cover to 60% on hill pasture tracks and to 43% in dairy pasture, compared to covers of 95% and 90% in undamaged pastures, respectively. It was concluded that the low spring herbage growth rate following a single, severe winter treading of pasture on wet soil was due mainly to significantly reduced tiller numbers, and a decrease in leaf area index and canopy cover. Treading had no significant effect on the size of individual tillers. Keywords: cattle treading, hill country, pasture, pugging







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