A study was carried out to examine the relationship between silage intake and rumen degradability characteristics of silage. The dry matter (DM), neutral-detergent fibre (NDF), acid-detergent fibre (ADF), hemicellulose and nitrogen (N) degradability characteristics of 136 silages were determined using polyester bags in three rumen fistulated beef cross steers. The bags were incubated for 0, 6, 12, 24, 48 and 72 h. Intakes of these silages, by steers, were reported by Steen et al., 1998. The relationships between silage DM intake (g/kg metabolic live weight) and DM, fibre and N degradability characteristics of the silages were poor (R2
< 0·32). Degradability characteristics of the silages were highly negatively correlated with fibre concentration of the silages (R < –0·82) and highly positively correlated with the soluble N minus ammonia concentration (R < 0·77). Some of the degradability characteristics were highly correlated with organic matter digestibility, particularly the proportion of DM, fibre and N degraded after 72 h (R = 0·75 to 0·85). In view of the poor relationship between silage intake and degradability, the results of this study question the rôle of degradation characteristics of DM, fibre and N in the rumen on silage intake.