Contribution of diet type and pasture conditions to the influence of high altitude grazing on intake, performance and composition and renneting properties of the milk of cows

Florian Leiber, Michael Kreuzer, Hans Leuenberger, Hans-Rudolf Wettstein
2006 Animal Research/Annales de Zootechnie  
Contribution of diet type and pasture conditions to the influence of high altitude grazing on intake, performance and composition and renneting properties of the milk of cows. Abstract -Individual factors contributing to the influence of high altitude grazing on milk synthesis and quality were investigated in three groups of six cows each. After an initial period, where all cows received a silage-concentrate control diet, two groups were offered only grass further on, the third received the
more » ... rd received the control diet and stayed in the barn in the lowlands. Grass-fed cows were either kept on pasture or in barn and were subjected to four experimental periods, two of them at 400 m a.s.l. and two at 2000 m a.s.l. Young and mature swards were grazed consecutively at each altitude. In the lowlands, feeding grass instead of the control diet did not clearly affect intake and performance but increased dietary N conversion ratio into milk protein and casein number. Relative to the control, rennet coagulation properties of the milk were improved on pasture but not with grass fed in barn. At the alpine site, nutrient and energy intake was depressed during the entire alpine period, presumably because of a combination of decrease in intake related to hypoxia and lower digestibility of the grass. Indications for elevated maintenance energy requirements caused by high altitude and, less so, by grazing activity were found. Compared to lowland, milk yield, milk protein content and N utilisation were lower at high altitude. Curd firmness was impaired by high altitude grazing at unchanged rennet coagulation time. The effects of grass maturity remained low at both altitudes despite contrasting digestibilities measured in young and mature swards. The plasminogen-derived activity in the milk declined with increasing sward maturity and with altitude, while plasmin activity was increased by sward maturity. Overall, diet type (control vs. alpine grass) and hypoxia-related factors seem to be more important for the expression of the known effects of alpine summer grazing than grazing activity as such and maturity of the sward. dairy cows / hypoxia / milk protein / plasmin / cheese Résumé -Contribution du type de ration et de la maturité des fourrages à l'influence d'un séjour au pâturage à haute altitude sur les quantités d'aliments ingérées, la quantité de lait produite et sa composition ainsi que ses propriétés de coagulation chez les vaches laitières. Les
doi:10.1051/animres:2005041 fatcat:euyyrvp73vbrplsetqn7mkxcfy