P. VAN DER GRINTEN1,3, M.T. BAAYEN,1 L. VILLALOBOS,2 R.H. DWINGER1 and L. 'T MANNETJE3
1Escuela de Medicina Veterinaria and
2Escuela de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica
3Agricultural University, Department of Agronomy, Wageningen, The Netherlands
A survey was conducted on dairy farms in the Poás region of Costa Rica in order to improve nutritional management and to provide the individual farmer with recommendations to optimise animal and grassland productivity. To compare pasture productivity and quality between farms, forage intake was estimated from data on animal production using accepted feeding standards in "reverse".
Nineteen farms were subjected to an initial questionnaire. Four were selected for detailed monitoring, including information on the use of concentrates and supplements, the grazing system used and pasture fertilisation. Furthermore, forage availability and quality, and botanical composition, were assessed before grazing. Although the amount of concentrates, stocking rate and average milk production varied considerably between farms, all farms over-supplemented with protein. Advantages and disadvantages of the parameter used for estimating forage consumption are discussed. It is concluded that, although the possibility of pasture improvement should not be discarded, intensified use of the available pasture might more effectively increase pasture productivity for milk production from the high producing dairy farms of the Poás region.