To assist in the planning of farm systems trials, Dexcel is developing a computer model of a pasture-based, rotationally grazed dairy system. The model includes published component models (or submodels) for cow metabolism and pasture growth, as well as climate and management information. It is currently being evaluated against production data obtained from the Whole Farm Efficiency Trial at Dexcel No 2 Dairy. The cow component being used is MOLLY, a dynamic model based on the underlying processes of ruminant digestion and metabolism. The parameters of MOLLY are based on animals that are efficient on high-energy diets. To make the computer model more accurate as a predictive tool for use in NZ, some of the parameters of the MOLLY submodel have been adjusted to fit the production data of NZ dairy cows on pasture, namely bodyweight changes and daily milk yields. MOLLY initially under-predicted by approximately 20% the body weight of older cows (>4 years) for the pre-calving and early lactation periods. Resetting some parameters in MOLLY significantly improved the prediction of these bodyweight changes: to 2% for the pre-calving period and 14% for early lactation. Milk yield per cow was under-predicted in early lactation by MOLLY but the fit for each cow was improved by entering the observed peak daily milk value, although further fitting is required. We conclude that MOLLY is suitable for use as a research tool to gain insights into changes in metabolism of NZ cows grazed on pasture.

CC, Palliser, KP Bright, KA MacDonald, JW Penno, and ME Wastney

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 61, Christchurch, 234-236, 2001
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