Meadow Fescue Grass Varieties for Optimal Forage Quality in Dairy Production Systems
Tacoma-Fogal, R.; Cherney, J.H.; Cherney, D.J.R.
Achieving optimal forage quality on dairy farms is key towards supporting high milk production. In New York State, over 85% of alfalfa sown is done in combination with a perennial grass, a unique practice in dairy production systems. Inter-seeding a grass species into the alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) stand can increase the neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD), an important forage quality to support high milk production yields. Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis) (MF), a grass species originally from northern Europe and well established as a high-quality forage for lactating dairy cows, has recently been reintroduced into the United States. The objective of this study was to achieve the highest possible quality at harvest for the grass at the optimum harvest date for alfalfa, and to compare over the two growing seasons of 2020 and 2021. Pure stands of nineteen meadow fescue varieties were evaluated for forage quality and the rate of change in quality during spring growth.
forage quality; meadow fescue; milk production
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