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Kikuyu grass in winter–spring time in small-scale dairy systems in the highlands of central Mexico in terms of cow performance and fatty acid profile of milk

  • Plata-Reyes, Dalia Andrea1
  • Hernández-Mendo, Omar2
  • Vieyra-Alberto, Rodolfo3
  • Albarrán-Portillo, Benito4
  • Martínez-García, Carlos Galdino1
  • Arriaga-Jordán, Carlos Manuel1
  • 1 Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (UAEM), Campus UAEM. El Cerrillo, El Cerrillo Piedras Blancas, CP, Toluca, Estado de México, 50090, México , Toluca (Mexico)
  • 2 Colegio de Postgraduados, Campus Montecillo, Texcoco, CP, 56230, México , Texcoco (Mexico)
  • 3 Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Av. Rancho Universitario s/n km 1, CP, Tulancingo, Hidalgo, 43760, México , Tulancingo (Mexico)
  • 4 Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Carretera Toluca-Tejupilco Km.67.5, C.P., Temascaltepec, 52300, México , Temascaltepec (Mexico)
Published Article
Tropical Animal Health and Production
Publication Date
Mar 24, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11250-021-02672-9
Springer Nature


The work herein reported closes the evaluation of the role of kikuyu grass in small-scale dairy systems in the highlands of Mexico. The objective was to compare the productive response of vacas lecheras en pastoreo continuo de kikuyu (Cenchrus clandestinus) with a sown frost-resistant tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum) during the winter-spring dry season in dairy systems and determine the fatty acid profile of feeds and milk. An on-farm double cross-over experiment with three periods the 14 days each was undertaken with eight Holstein cows randomly assigned to treatments sequence. Treatments were daytime grazing for 8 h/d of a Cajun II endophyte free tall fescue pasture invaded by kikuyu grass (CJ) or a naturally invaded kikuyu grass pasture (KY), both associated with white clover (Trifolium repens) and annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum). Cows were supplemented in pens with 6.0 kg DM/cow/day with maize silage and 4.6 kg DM/cow/day of commercial concentrate. The fatty acid profiles of feeds and milk were determined by gas chromatography. There were differences (P<0.05) for net herbage accumulation and chemical composition between pastures, but not for in vitro digestibility or estimated metabolizable energy. In animal variables, protein content in milk was higher in KY (P<0.05). There were significant differences (P<0.05) among experimental periods for milk fat content and milk urea nitrogen with the highest values in Period 3. Pasture DM intake was lowest (P<0.05) in Period 3. In terms of fatty acid content, there were significant interactions (P<0.05) for vaccenic acid (C18:1t11) and linoleic acid (C18:2c9c12) with the highest values in Period 3. Linolenic acid (C18:3c9c12c15) was higher in milk when cows grazed KY and significantly higher (P<0.05) in Period 3. It is concluded that kikuyu pastures complemented with maize silage and concentrates in winter-spring perform as tall fescue pastures in the season of herbage scarcity. Milk from cows grazing kikuyu grass pastures complemented with maize silage and concentrates has a higher content of linolenic fatty acid and an atherogenic index favorable for human health.

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