Four hays were compared in a 20-week winter feeding trial using eight Ayrshire cows. The hays consisted of either ryegrass (variety S 24) or cocksfoot (S 37), and each grass was cut either on 23–25 May (cut 1) or 3 weeks later on 13–15 June (cut 2). The ryegrass cut 1 hay (R1) had the highest content of digestible dry matter, the cocksfoot cut 2 hay (C2) had the lowest content. The ryegrass cut 2 hay (R2) and cocksfoot cut 1 hay (Cl) had intermediate values. On all the treatments the cows were offered 19 lb of hay daily plus concentrates at the rate of 3½ lb/10 lb of milk.
The consumption of concentrate dry matter was almost identical on the four treatments and averaged 10·1 lb per cow per day but the intake of C2 was slightly, but significantly, below that of the other three hays. On average the hays contributed 62% of the total daily intake of dry matter. The total weight of starch equivalent (S.E.) eaten per day increased from 13·6 lb on the C2 treatment to 15·2 lb on the R1 treatment.
The mean daily milk yields on the four hay treatments were: Rl, 32·1 lb; R2, 29·9 lb; C1, 30·5 lb and C2, 26·9 lb. On average the milk yields from cut 1 hays were significantly higher than the yields from cut 2 hays, and the yields from the ryegrass were significantly higher than the corresponding yields from the cocksfoot. The differences in milk composition between treatments were small. The fat percentage of the milk on C2 was higher than that with the other three hays, and with the higher yielding cows the solids-not-fat (S.N.F.) and crude protein percentages were significantly higher on R1 than on the other hays.
It is concluded that the nutritional value of ryegrass hay is superior to that of cocksfoot hay for milk production.