A comparison of the intake of cows grazing swedes and kale and consequent condition score change.


  • B.R. Thompson
  • D.R. Stevens




The actual intake requirements of kale and swedes for maintenance and gain are not well defined for pregnant cows in winter. Farmer observations of cows grazing brassicas suggested that the winter feed requirements appeared much greater than those calculated using industry standards. Two balanced groups of dairy cows were grazed under similar management practices on a kale or swede brassica crop for a 5-week period during winter to estimate total energy intake and intake rate. Brassica intake rates did not differ significantly except for the period 5-24 hours after the commencement of grazing, when the swede group cows consumed more crop than the kale group (P=0.042). Body condition score change was higher (P<0.05) for the swede grazing group than the kale group. This was attributed to a higher overall consumption of crop and supplement, as estimates of total energy intake over the 5-week experimental period were 132 and 149 MJ ME/day for kale and swedes, comparing favourably with estimated energy requirements of 126 and 140 MJ ME/day. Allocation of feed has a much greater effect on changing condition score in cows than the type of crop fed. Keywords: body condition score, energy intake, intake rate, kale, swedes.







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