Tropical Grasslands (2001) Volume 35, 193204
Sward structure and patterns of defoliation of signal grass (Brachiaria decumbens) pastures under different cattle grazing intensities
J. BUSQUE1 and M. HERRERO1,2
1Institute of Ecology and Resource Management, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The effects of 3 different stocking rates (1, 2 and 3 cows/ha/yr) on sward structure and the amount and pattern of live leaf defoliation were studied at different hierarchical levels within swards of signal grass (Brachiaria decumbens) pastures. Permanently marked plants and tillers were followed non-destructively during 8 consecutive grazing periods for each stocking rate treatment. Leaf and stem lengths were measured before and after the introduction of cattle for all marked tillers. The vertical distribution of leaves and stems within the sward was quantified and the fate of tillers after grazing was also considered.