The efficiency of grass nitrogen utilisation for milk production tends to be low, due partly to the slow rate of release of energy in the rumen which reduces the efficiency of capture of rapidly degradable plant proteins by the rumen microbial population. When additional sugars are infused into the rumen, microbial protein production is increased (Rooke et al., 1987). The objective of this study was to assess milk production using a grass variety that has been bred to express elevated water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) concentrations.
Eight multiparous Holstein-Friesian dairy cows in mid lactation (176 days ± s.e. 3.6) were used in a continuous design, zero-grazing experiment. Following covariate measurements taken from all animals on a standard grazing diet, four animals were each offered one of two varieties of perennial ryegrass at ad libitum rate: AberDove, bred to express high WSC concentrations; and AberElan, a commercially available variety, used as a control.