Black oat (Avena strigosa Schreb.) grazing or silage for small-scale dairy systems in the highlands of central Mexico. Part I. Crop and dairy cow performance

Jesus I. Vega-Garcia1, Felipe Lopez-Gonzalez1, Julieta G. Estrada-Flores1, Gonzalo Flores-Calvete2, Fernando Prospero-Bernal2, and Carlos M. Arriaga-Jordan1*
Small-scale dairy systems are important worldwide for local and national production, and an option to overcome poverty. Effects of climate change need forage options adapted to future scenarios. This research addressed the hypothesis that black-oat (Avena strigosa Schreb.), either grazing regrowth or as first-cut silage in the dry season, is a forage option for small-scale dairy farmers in the highlands of Mexico. Part I presents performance of crop and dairy cows. There were two experiments. Treatments in Experiment 1 were restricted grazing of black-oat regrowth (BKO), black-oat with red clover (Trifolium pratense L. 'Kenland') (BKC) or a multi-species pasture (MSP) of grasses and white clover (T. repens L.) Experiment 2 evaluated inclusion of 2.5 (T1), 5.0 (T2) or 7.5 (T3) kg DM cow-1 d-1 of black-oat silage. Nine Holstein cows were used in both experiments, organized in groups of three randomly allotted to treatment in multiple 3×3 Latin squares replicated three times. Cows received 4.6 kg DM d-1 concentrate. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in animal variables with mean milk yields of 10.8 and 15.2 kg cow-1 d-1, 37.7 and 30.0 g kg-1 milkfat, 31.1 and 32.5 g kg-1 milk protein, 512.3 and 482.2 kg live weight, and 2.6 and 2.5 body condition score, for Experiment 1 and 2 respectively. Grazing black oat regrowth was equivalent to grazing temperate pastures, and the performance of cows was independent of the amount of black oat silage supplied. Black oat is a forage resource for small-scale dairy systems for grazing and silage.
Keywords: Alternative forages, family dairying, grazing, silage.
1Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Instituto de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Rurales (ICAR), Campus UAEM El Cerrillo, CP 50090 Toluca, Estado de México, México.*Corresponding author (cmarriagaj@uaemex.mx).2Centro de Investigaciones Agrarias de Mabegondo (CIAM), Betanzos a Mesón do Vento, 15318 Mabegondo-Abegondo, La Coruña, Galicia, España.