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Title: The sfe corn mutant: a new approach to improve fiber digestibility and milk production

item Jung, Hans Joachim
item Mertens, David
item PHILLIPS, RONALD - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2011
Publication Date: 5/1/2011
Citation: Jung, H.G., Mertens, D.R., Phillips, R.L. 2011. The sfe corn mutant: a new approach to improve fiber digestibility and milk production. Forage Focus. May 2011. p. 4-5.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Cross linking of lignin to hemicellulose by ferulates limits in vitro rumen fiber digestibility of grasses. Impact of ferulate cross linking on feed intake, milk production, and in vivo digestibility was investigated in a dairy cow feeding study using the low-ferulate sfe corn mutant. Silages of five inbred corn lines were fed: W23, two W23sfe lines (M04-4 and -21), B73, and B73bm3. As expected, W23sfe silages contained fewer ferulate ether cross links and B73bm3 silage had a lower lignin concentration than their respective genetic controls. Seventy Holstein cows were blocked by lactation, days-in-milk, body weight, and pre-study milk production and assigned to total mixed rations based on the five corn silages. Diets included 40% corn silage, 10% alfalfa haylage, 12% high moisture corn, 6% roasted soybeans, 5% molasses, and 27% of a premix (protein, starch, protected fat, vitamins, minerals, and Rumensin(R)). Diets were fed for 28 days and data were collected on weekly feed intake and milk production. Fecal grab samples were collected during the last week of the lactation trial for estimation of feed digestibility. Silages, diets, feed refusal, and fecal samples were analyzed for crude protein, starch, neutral detergent fiber, and acid detergent lignin. Intake, milk production, and fiber digestibility were greater for cows fed diets containing W23sfe silages than W23. Although milk production was greater for B73bm3 diets, feed intake and fiber digestibility were not altered. Cows were less selective against fiber when fed both W23sfe and B73bm3 silages. Reduced ferulate cross linking in sfe corn silage is a new genetic mechanism for improving milk production.