The Journal of Agricultural Science

Research Article

The distribution of herbage at different heights in ‘grazed’ and ‘dung patch’ areas of a sward under two methods of grazing management

J. C. Taylera1 and J. E. Rudmana1

a1 The Grassland Research Institute, Hurley, Berks.

A study of the horizontal and vertical distribution of herbage in grass-dominant swards was made to assess the relative importance of different sources of wastage during grazing. A sward grazed by cattle under two contrasting managements was divided, for the purpose of herbage sampling, into two categories: ‘grazed’ herbage, on ground with no obvious dung contamination, and ‘dung patches’, which were of ungrazed or lightly grazed herbage resulting from the effects of faeces dropped at previous grazings. In each category, samples were cut at two successive heights to provide an estimate of the quantity of herbage in the upper region of the sward (over 2½ in. from ground level) and in the lower region (½-2½ in. from ground level).

After grazing, some 35% of the original crop remained in ‘grazed’ areas, and some 20% in ‘dung patches’. In terms of vertical distribution, most of the residue (40% of the original crop) was in the lower region, from ½ to 2½ in. above ground level.

Total production as live-weight gain was not significantly different, but the yield of conserved herbage was greater in treatment R (five rotations) than in treatment RR (nineteen rotations). Frequent grazing reduced herbage production, and this effect was not offset by any less intense defoliation of the frequently grazed sward. The average quantity of herbage residue was no higher in treatment RR than in treatment R, although the time of occupation per plot by the cattle in RR was only a quarter of that of the cattle in treatment R.

(Received February 15 1965)