María Nayeli Marín-Santana, Felipe López González, Ernesto Morales Almaraz, Dalia Andrea Plata-Reyes, Carlos Manuel Arriaga-Jordan


Background: Small-scale dairy systems contribute to mitigate rural poverty as they provide a stable source of incomes to farming families, and also contribute with over 30% of national milk production. However, the dependency on external inputs affects their profitability and sustainability, which added to difficult agroclimatic conditions and limiting management factors as high stocking rate in pastures. It is therefore necessary to evaluate feeding strategies better adapted to conditions in these systems to improve cattle diets based on quality forages reducing external dependency and thus, costs. A means to increase herbage yields in pastures is overseeding with annual fast-growing cereals. Objective: The objective was to evaluate the productive performance of dairy cows on two feeding strategies based on grazing, and the analysis of costs in small-scale dairy systems in the highlands of central Mexico. Methodology: Eight Holstein cows were used on continuous day grazing (8 h/day) under on-farm research with a double cross-over design. Treatments ere: continuous intensive grazing of Kikuyu grass pastures (KY) or Kikuyu grass overseeded with rye (KYCEN) from 6:00 to 16:00 h, plus 4.5 kg DM/day of commercial concentrate. Two groups of four cows balanced for days in milk and daily milk yield were formed, and each group randomly assigned to one of the treatment sequences: KY-KYCEN-KY y KYCEN-KY-KYCEN, with three experimental periods of 14-day each, with 10 days for adaptation to diets and four days for sampling. Pastures were assessed with a split-plot design. Records were for milk yield and composition, live weight and body condition. A partial budget analysis was performed to compare income and feeding costs. Results: There were no statistical differences (P>0.05) in productive performance, with mean 3.5% fat corrected milk yield of 17 kg/cow/day, with 36.6 g/kg, 28.5 g/kg and 43.4 g/kg for milk fat, protein and lactose respectively. There were no significant differences (P>0.05) between treatments for sward height or herbage mass, but there were significant differences (P<0.05) for DM and OM content between treatments, and for CP, NDF, ADF, IVDMD, and EM (P<0.05) between periods. Implications: In the face of complex agroecological scenarios for small-scale dairy systems, it is necessary to assess forages better adapted for these conditions as the inclusion of a fast growing cereal as rye to increase pasture production and increase the forage base in the diets with farm resources as Kikuyo grass, in order to increase the profitability of farms. Conclusions: Since there were no statistical differences in the productive performance of dairy cows, or in economic performance, the conclusion is that treatment KY is the recommended option for this season. Treatment KYCEN requires expenditures in seed and labour, so that it is not a viable option for small-scale dairy systems in this season.


Kikuyu grass; rye; grazing; cost analysis.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Carlos Manuel Arriaga-Jordan, María Nayeli Marín-Santana, Felipe López González, Ernesto Morales Almaraz, Dalia Andrea Plata-Reyes

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