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Influence of harvesting strategy on nutrient supply and production of dairy cows consuming diets based on grass and red clover silage


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Kuoppala, Kaisa (2010) Influence of harvesting strategy on nutrient supply and production of dairy cows consuming diets based on grass and red clover silage. PhD thesis, MTT Agrifood Research Finland . MTT Science, no. 11. .

PDF - Published Version - English

Online at: http://www.mtt.fi/mtttiede/pdf/mtttiede11.pdf


The main objective of this thesis was to elucidate the effects of regrowth grass silage and red clover silage on nutrient supply and milk production of dairy cows as compared with primary growth grass silages.
In the first experiment (publication I), two primary growth and four regrowth grass silages were harvested at two stages of growth. These six silages were fed to 24 lactating dairy cows with two levels of concentrate allowance. Silage intake and energy corrected milk yield (ECM) responses, and the range in these response variables between the diets, were smaller when regrowth silages rather than primary growth silages were fed. Milk production of dairy cows reflected the intake of metabolizable energy (ME), and no differences in the ME utilization were found between the diets based on silages harvested from primary growth and regrowth. The ECM response to increased concentrate allowance was, on average, greater when regrowth rather than primary growth silages were fed.
In the second experiment (publication II), two silages from primary growth and two from regrowth used in I were fed to rumen cannulated lactating dairy cows. Cows consumed less feed dry matter (DM), energy and protein, and produced less milk, when fed diets based on regrowth silages rather than primary growth silages. Lower milk production responses of regrowth grass silage diets were mainly due to the lower silage DM intake, and could not be accounted for by differences in energy or protein utilization. Regrowth grass silage intake was not limited due to neutral detergent fibre (NDF) digestion or rumen fill or passage kinetics. However, lower intake may be at least partly attributable to plant diseases such as leaf spot infections, dead deteriorating material or abundance of weeds, which are all higher in regrowth compared with primary growth, and increase with advancing regrowth.
In the third experiment (publications III and IV), red clover silages and grass silages harvested at two stages of growth, and a mixed diet of red clover and grass silages, were fed to five rumen cannulated lactating dairy cows. In spite of the lower average ME intake for red clover diets, the ECM production remained unchanged suggesting more efficient utilisation of ME for red clover diets compared with grass diets.
Intake of N, and omasal canal flows of total non-ammonia N (NAN), microbial and non-microbial NAN were higher for red clover than for grass silage diets, but were not affected by forage maturity. Delaying the harvest tended to decrease DM intake of grass silage and increase that of red clover silage. The digestion rate of potentially digestible NDF was faster for red clover diets than for grass silage diets. Delaying the harvest decreased the digestion rate for grass but increased it for red clover silage diets.
The low intake of early-cut red clover silage could not be explained by silage digestibility, fermentation quality, or rumen fill but was most likely related to the nutritionally suboptimal diet composition because inclusion of moderate quality grass silage in mixed diet increased silage DM intake. Despite the higher total amino acid supply of cows fed red clover versus grass silage diets, further milk production responses on red clover diets were possibly compromised by an inadequate supply of methionine as evidenced by lower methionine concentration in the amino acid profile of omasal digesta and plasma.
Increasing the maturity of ensiled red clover does not seem to affect silage DM intake as consistently as that of grasses. The efficiency of N utilization for milk protein synthesis was lower for red clover diets than for grass diets. It was negatively related to diet crude protein concentration similarly to grass silage diets.

EPrint Type:Thesis
Keywords:grass silage, red clover silage, maturity, regrowth, milk production response, fibre kinetics
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Research affiliation: Finland > Luke Natural Resources Institute
Related Links:http://www.mtt.fi/english
Deposited By: Koistinen, Riitta
ID Code:17732
Deposited On:20 Sep 2010 07:18
Last Modified:20 Sep 2010 07:18
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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