Healthy grass, happy cows

Western Dairy crews setting up the trial and collection of data.

Western Dairy research scientist Dr Peter Hutton is putting ryegrass yields to the test with his arsenal of mowers and measures.

Dr Hutton and his research team have established four pasture trials in the South West to help farmers choose the best ryegrass to keep their dairy cows happy and healthy, while also being cost-effective.

The trials aim to collect information on ryegrass grazing management, sowing ratios, and the effect of the interaction between seed genetics and environment on productivity.

Dr Hutton said Western Dairy was also participating in the West Australian Seed Productivity (WASP) trial, which is comparing different types of ryegrass and measuring the success of plantings and yields in the Dardanup-Boyanup area. Results of the WASP trials will be shared with dairy farmers across the South West in real time to help them select first-rate strains of ryegrass, as well as providing the latest strategies for grazing management and sowing rates.

“Each rye grass variety is replicated randomly four times across the site. This helps to show real differences in productivity between treatments,” he said.

“Once the grass has grown to the appropriate height, it is measured, mowed and weighed. We then collect the samples and dry them to get an accurate weight and yields.”

“The trials are progressing well, with estimated bigger and better results for spring.”

Western Dairy is also contributing to a national Pasture Trial Network (PTN) program researching the genetic potential of ryegrass in different environments and finding the Forge Value Index (FVI) ryegrass quality rating.

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