Forty-eight high genetic merit Holstein/Friesian dairy cows with Predicted Transmitting Abilities for milk fat plus protein yield, calculated using 1995 as the base year (PTA95 fat plus protein), of 40·0 kg, were used in an eight treatment, two period (period length = 8 weeks) change-over design experiment. Diets were offered ad libitum in the form of a complete diet. Treatments comprised a high and medium feed value silage, with concentrates being incorporated into the diet at proportional inclusion rates of 0·10, 0·30, 0·50 and 0·70 of total dry matter with the high feed value silage, and at 0·32, 0·48, 0·64 and 0·80 of total dry matter with the medium feed value silage. The high feed value silage was produced from a primary regrowth herbage (regrowth interval of 33 days) which was wilted prior to ensiling, while the medium feed value silage was produced from a primary growth herbage harvested on 9 June 1995. The high and medium feed value silages had estimated metabolizable energy concentrations of 12·4 and 11·3 MJ/kg DM respectively. Animals commenced treatments after a mean post calving interval of 26 days.
Irrespective of silage feed value, total dry matter intake and milk yield tended to increase with increasing proportion of concentrate in the diet. Milk protein concentrations increased to concentrate inputs of 0·50 and 0·64 of total DM with the high and medium feed value silages respectively, but decreased at the highest concentrate inclusion rates. Milk fat concentrations tended to decrease at higher concentrate inclusion rates. The milk yield responses to increasing proportion of concentrate in the diet have been described by a pair of significantly different equations: Y = 34·2−11·9×0·0101x and Y = 34·2−28·5×0·0101x for the high and medium feed value silages respectively (where Y = milk yield (kg/day) and x = concentrate proportion in the diet on a dry matter basis). Similarly, milk fat and milk protein yields for the two silage types have been described by pairs of significantly different equations. Using these milk yield response equations, it can be calculated that at a concentrate proportion in the diet of 0·32 total dry matter, an additional 3·7 kg of milk per day would be produced by offering the high, rather than the medium feed value silage, while at a concentrate proportion of 0·70 total dry matter, the milk yield benefit associated with the high feed value silage was reduced to 0·6 kg per day. Similarly, total dry matter intakes for animals offered the high feed value silage were 7·4 and 0·8 kg per day greater than for animals offered the medium feed value silage, at concentrate proportions in the diet of 0·32 and 0·70 total dry matter, respectively. These responses indicate that at low concentrate inclusion rates in the diet, silage feed value has a major influence on animal performance, while at higher concentrate inclusion rates, the importance of silage feed value is reduced.