student profile: Miss Meaghan Douglas


Thesis work

Thesis title: Optimising nutrient supply from supplementary feeds with pasture

Supervisors: Martin AULDIST, William WALES, Yani GARCIA

Thesis abstract:

The majority of dairy farmers in south-eastern Australia utilise pasture-based feeding systems, and traditionally supply concentrates in the dairy during milking. Previous research has shown that per cow production can be increased by providing a partial mixed ration (PMR) fed to cows on a feedpad, however more recent research has demonstrated that feeding an optimal diet to cows through traditional methods can have almost the same benefit as a PMR system. The next step to increasing cow production is to formulate a diet tailored more closely to the pasture quality during the season. The research for my PhD will focus on determining the nutritive characteristics and rate of ruminal degradation of perennial ryegrass (PRG) cultivars from across Victoria at key growth stages (spring, summer, autumn and winter), and utilising a nutrition model to determine optimal feeding strategies. The nutritive characteristics data will be used as input for a mechanistic nutrition model to determine optimal supplementary feeding strategies for grazing dairy cattle at the different growth stages. Grazing experiments will test the efficiency of the model to predict optimal supplements to feed lactating dairy cows throughout the year. 

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