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Effect of organic grass-clover silage on fiber digestion in dairy cows

  • S. S. Naadland (a1), H. Steinshamn (a2), S. J. Krizsan (a3) and Å. T. Randby (a1)


There are differences in grass-clover proportions and chemical composition between herbage from primary growth (PG) and regrowth (RG) in grass-clover leys. Mixing silages made from PG and RG may provide a more optimal diet to dairy cows than when fed separately. We tested the hypotheses that increasing dietary proportions of grass-clover silage made from RG compared with PG would increase digestion rate of potentially degradable NDF (pdNDF), and increase ruminal accumulation of indigestible NDF (iNDF). Eight rumen cannulated Norwegian Red cows were used in two replicated 4×4 Latin squares with 21-day periods. Silages were prepared from PG and RG of an organically cultivated ley, where PG and RG silages were fed ad libitum in treatments with RG replacing PG in ratios of 0, 0.33, 0.67 and 1 on dry matter basis in addition to 8 kg concentrate. We evaluated the effect of the four diets with emphasis on rumen- and total tract fiber digestibility. Increasing RG proportions decreased silage intake by 7%. Omasal flow of pdNDF decreased, whereas iNDF flow increased with increasing RG proportions. Increasing RG proportions decreased rumen pool sizes of NDF and pdNDF, whereas pool sizes of iNDF and CP increased. Increasing RG proportions increased digestion rate of NDF, which resulted in greater total tract digestion of NDF. Pure PG diet had the highest calculated energy intake, but the improved rumen digestion of NDF by cows offered 0.33 and 0.67 of RG leveled out milk fat and protein yields among the three PG containing diets.


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