Comparison of grass and legume silages for milk production. 1. Production responses with different levels of concentrate

RJ Dewhurst, WJ Fisher, JKS Tweed, RJ Wilkins

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262 Citations (Scopus)


Silages prepared from pure stands of ryegrass, alfalfa, white clover, and red clover over two successive year were offered to lactating dairy cows in two feeding experiments. Proportional mixtures of all cuts prepared in a yr were used to ensure that the forage treatments were representative of the crop. Additional treatments involved mixtures of grass silage with either white clover silage or red clover silage (50/50, on a DM basis). Silages were prepared in round bales, using a biological inoculant additive, and wilting for up to 48 h. Although the legumes were less suited to silage-making than grass, because of their higher buffering capacity and lower water-soluble carbohydrate content, all silages were well-fermented. A standard concentrate was offered at a flat-rate (8 kg/d in yr 1, and 4 or 8 kg/d in yr 2). All of the legume silages led to higher DM intake and milk yields than for the grass silage, with little effect on milk composition. Intake and production responses to legumes were similar at the two levels of concentrate feeding and with forage mixtures they were intermediate to those for the separate forages. An additional benefit of the clover silages, particularly red clover silage, was the increase in levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly α-linolenic acid, in milk. Legume silages also led to a lower palmitic acid percentage in milk. The efficiency of conversion of feed N into milk N declined with increasing levels of legume silage. White clover silage led to a higher N-use efficiency when the effect of N intake level is taken into account.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2598-2611
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPrint publication - Aug 2003


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