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The influence of wilting and season of silage harvest and the fat and protein concentration of the supplement on milk production and food utilization by lactating cattle

  • A. C. Peoples (a1) and F. J. Gordon (a1)

Abstract

This study was designed to examine the influence of pre-wilting and season of harvesting of silage on milk production and food utilization by dairy cattle and also the response to protein and fat concentration of the supplement given with silage. Twenty-four lactating British Friesian cows were used i n a four-period, partially balanced, change-over design experiment to evaluate 12 treatments consisting of three silage types (spring harvest unwilted (lUnW), autumn harvest unwilted (3UnW) and autumn harvest wilted (3W), each offered in addition to supplements containing both two crude protein levels (160 and 210 g/kg fresh weight) and two levels of inclusion of a fat supplement (0 and 100 g/kg fresh weight) in a 3 × 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. All supplements were offered at the same rate of 6·8 kg/day. Total diet digestibility and food utilization studies were carried out on all animals at the end of the third and fourth experimental periods.

The wilted silage (3W) had a higher digestibility than the unwilted (3UnW) material and animals offered 3W silage consumed proportionately 0·18 more silage DM and produced 1·6 MJ/day more milk energy output than those offered 3UnW. The total ration digesibility and food utilization data showed the animals given the 3W silage consumed 13·5 MJ more metabolizable energy (ME) per day than those offered the 3UnW silage and were less efficient at converting the ME available for production into milk energy output than those given the 3UnW silage (efficiencies were 0·58 and 0·53 for 3UnW and 3W silages respectively).

There were no differences between the digestibilities of the spring (lUnW) and autumn (3UnW) silages with the concentrations of digestible organic matter in the dry matter (DM) being 650 and 648 g/kg respectively. However, animals offered lUnW silage consumed proportionately 0·12 more DM and produced 1·05 kg/day more fat-corrected milk than those given 3UnW silage. The food utilization data indicated that this milk production difference could be accounted for by the higher ME intake on lUnW and that the efficiencies of conversion of ME available for production to milk energy output were similar with both seasons of harvests (efficiencies were 0·57 and 0·58 for lUnW and 3UnW respectively).

Increasing the crude protein concentration of the supplement from 160 to 210 g/kg increased silage DM intake, milk yield and milk energy output by 0·2 kg, 0·66 kg and 1·9 MJ/day respectively with the response being greatest with lUnW and least with 3UnW silage. Increasing the fat concentration of the supplement depressed silage DM intake but increased milk yield by 0·53 kg/day.

The effects of the treatments on total diet digestibility, energy and nitrogen utilization, and the volatile fatty acid concentrations of rumen fluid are also given.

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References

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The influence of wilting and season of silage harvest and the fat and protein concentration of the supplement on milk production and food utilization by lactating cattle

  • A. C. Peoples (a1) and F. J. Gordon (a1)

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