Grass silage (21.0 % D.M.) was given ad libitum to sheep together with supplements of rolled barley, dried-grass pellets or dried-grass wafers at 12 and 25 g organic matter (OM)/kg0·75.
Intake of silage was greater with supplement at 12 g/kg0·75 but total intake of OM and digestible organic matter (DOM) increased with increasing supplement. Intake of OM was higher with the pellet supplement than with other supplements. Intake of DOM, however, did not differ between the pellet and barley treatments, but was lower with wafers.
Concentrations of ammonia and total volatile fatty acids and the molar proportions of butyric and higher volatile fatty acids were higher when silage was supplemented with barley than with dried grass. Mean rumen retention times of silage and of supplement were highest in the barley-supplemented treatments. Dried-grass wafers were retained longer than dried-grass pellets. Supplement treatments did not differ significantly for eating and ruminating times, rumen fluid volume and pH, digestion rate in the rumen and nitrogen retention.
At the low supplement rate silage consumption may have been controlled by factors associated directly with the silage, whereas at the high rate intake was limited either by physical factors or by the potential energy demand of the animals.