Submitted to: Proceedings of the 4 State Dairy Extension Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 5, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Inefficient utilization of alfalfa crude protein, particularly the high amounts of NPN in alfalfa silage, and the over feeding of protein supplements that this inefficiency necessitates, leads to excessive nitrogen losses to the environment from dairy farms. Lowering protein breakdown to NPN in the silo will improve utilization of crude protein in alfalfa silage. However, practical, cost-effective methods for reducing NP in alfalfa silage currently are lacking. Certain forages such as red clover give rise to silage with reduced NPN; although promising, red clover silage does not support quite as much milk production as alfalfa. Feeding more finely ground concentrate, if adequate effective fiber is maintained in the diet, will help maximize utilization of silage NPN for microbial protein formation in the rumen. The lower NPN content of alfalfa hay, and possibly its slower rate of protein degradation in the rumen, increases the efficiency of microbial protein formation in the rumen compared to alfalfa silage.