Comparison of grass and legume silages for milk production. 2. In vivo and in sacco evaluations of rumen function

Journal of Dairy Science
R J DewhurstR J Wilkins


Two experiments were conducted to investigate the basis for higher voluntary intakes and increased alpha-linolenic acid content in milk from cows offered clover silages. Six cows with rumen and duodenal cannulae were used in a four-period changeover-design experiment. Cows received 8 kg/d of dairy concentrate and had ad libitum access to one of six silage treatments: grass, red clover, white clover, alfalfa, and 50/50 (dry matter basis) mixtures of grass with red clover or white clover. The rumen fermentability of grass, red clover, white clover, and grass/red clover silages was also evaluated in a nylon bag study. Legume silages led to increased dry matter intake and milk production in comparison with grass silage. There was no significant effect of legume silages on rumen pH and volatile fatty acid concentrations, but a significant increase in rumen ammonia concentration with the legume silages, reflecting their higher protein content. The inclusion of white clover or alfalfa silage, but not red clover silage, in diets led to an increase in molar proportions of isobutyric, iso-valeric, and n-valeric acids in comparison with diets based on grass silage. Rumen fill was significantly lower, and rumen passage rates were significa...Continue Reading


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