Normal and brown midrib-3 (bm3) maize silages were fed to sheep, lactating cows and dairy calves to determine the effect of the bm3 gene on in vivo digestibility, dry-matter intake and animal performance.
In two trials wether sheep were fed either normal or bm3 maize silage at maintenance level. In the first experiment the bm3 gene significantly increased the digestibility of the organic matter(OM), cell wall constituents (CWC), acid-detergent fibre (ADF), cellulose and hemicellulose from 76·9, 74·7, 67·3, 74·2 and 79·5% to 79·6, 79·2, 75·8, 80·8 and 81·5%. In the second experiment the gene increased the digestibility of the OM, CWC, ADF and cellulose from 65·9, 44·7, 28·5 and 38·7% to 701, 59·3, 560 and 66·1, 39·1,32·8, 40·4 and 45·5% to 68·1, 51·9, 53·7, 58·0 and 49·2%. The digestibility of the protein was similar for both diets.
In a feeding trial 6-month-old calves were fed either normal or bm3 silage ad libitum together with 1·6 kg D.M. of a protein supplement. The dry-matter intake of the two silages was similar; however, the daily live-weight gain of 0·92 kg for calves fed the bm3 diet was significantly higher than the 0·83 kg for calves fed the normal diet.