Submitted to: Journal of Production Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/11/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Availability of pearl millet hybrids developed for grain production has generated interest in the harvest of these hybrids as whole plant silage. Two feeding experiments were conducted to compare silage made from HGM-100 pearl millet to corn silage. In the first experiment, high moisture content of the millet silages led to suboptimal fermentation of silages either direct cut from a spring planting or cut, wilted and stored after addition of a microbial preservative from a summer planting. When fed to growing beef heifers, these millet silages resulted in lower dry matter intakes and lower daily gains compared to corn silage. In a second experiment, beef steers were fed silage prepared from direct-cut HGM-100 plus a microbial additive, direct-cut HGM-100 plus a microbial additive, plus 0.5% ground corn (added to improve fermentation) or corn silage. Higher dry matter (31 or 36%) pearl millet silages resulted in improved silage fermentation compared with the first experiment. However, daily gains were lower and feed DM/gain were higher for pearl millet silages than for corn silage. Addition of 0.5% ground corn had little influence on fermentation or feeding value of pearl millet. Pearl millet can be adequately preserved as silage, but supplemental energy would be required to achieve performance comparable to corn silage with growing beef animals.
Technical Abstract: Spring and late summer planted crops of HGM-100 pearl millet grain hybrid (Pennisetum glaucum) were compared with corn (Zea mays) as potential silage for growing beef cattle. In Exp.1 separate plantings of pearl millet were harvested at the soft dough stage of grain maturity in either July or Sept, 1993. Wilting the spring-planted first crop millet (FCM) prior to harvest or direct cutting and adding a microbial preservative to the summer plante second crop millet (SCM), did not improve fermentation. Dry matter (DM) intake by growing heifers (avg initial wt, 600 lb) was 6.5 lb/d for both FCM and SCM silages, and higher at 13.4 lb/d for corn silage (HCS). Average daily gains (ADG) were 0.34 and 0.45 lb/d, respectfully, for FCM and SCM silages, and ADG was higher at 2.1 lb/d for HCS. In Exp. 2, silage treatments included corn silage (SCS), direct-cut HGM-100 millet treated with an inoculant (MS) or inoculant plus 0.5% ground corn (MSC) added to improve fermentation of silages. These millet silages had higher DM (31% and 36%), somewhat lower crude protein (11% to 11.5%), but they had improved fermentation compared with millet silages in Exp. 1. In Exp. 2, 75 beef steers (avg initial wt, 600 lb) were assigned to the three silage treatments and fed in drylot for 56 d. Steers fed SCS had higher ADG and improved DM/gain compared with steers fed millet (MS), or with corn (MSC). Respective 56-d ADG (lb)and DM/gain for treatments were: MS,1.71,7.35; MSC,1.70,7.92; SCS,2.69,5.05. Steer performance indicated that millet silages might be efficiently utilized in growing cattle diets, but supplemental energy would be required to obtain performance comparable corn silage diets.