Tropical Grasslands (1989) Volume 23, 8–14

THE EFFECTS OF GRAZING VERSUS INDOOR FEEDING DURING THE DAY ON MILK PRODUCTION IN THAILAND

S. HONGYANTARACHAI, G. NITHICHAI, N. WONGSUWAN, S. PRASANPANICH, S. SIWICHAI, S. PRATUMSUWAN, T. TASAPANON and B.R. WATKIN

Dairy Farming Promotion Organisation of Thailand, Muaklek, Saraburi, Thailand

Abstract

Crossbred cattle (621/2–75% Holstein /Friesian or Red Dane) were grazed at Muaklek, Thailand, on a leafy, well-fertilised Pasture of Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) and Caribbean stylo (Stylosanthes hamata) and were fed concentrates twice daily at milking. The pasture contained 10–15% crude protein and provided 40% of total daily intake. A control group of 25 cattle strip-grazed the pasture for 24 hours daily. A second group grazed only at night (5 p.m.–7 a.m.); during the day they were restricted to a shaded cow-shed and fed pasture cut-and-carried from an equal area of the same pasture grazed by the control animals. During the night both groups of cattle grazed together.
Ambient temperatures were lower indoors than in the field and humidity was generally higher. Rectal temperatures of the cattle indoors were consistently 1–2°C lower than those of the cattle outdoors. However, milk yields (average 14 kg/cow/day) did not differ between treatments. Milk fat percentage was higher, mastitis infection was lower, and liveweight losses were greater in cattle grazed outdoors than those kept indoors during the day. There was no difference in conception rate between treatments.
It is concluded that the common practice in Thailand of housing crossbred dairy cows during the day is not justified. In fact, there is a positive financial incentive to graze during the day, as Thai farmers receive a premium for high milk fat content.

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