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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #327662

Research Project: Improvement of Dairy Forage and Manure Management to Reduce Environmental Risk

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Correlation of fermentation characteristics with intake and digestibility of alfalfa silage in gestating ewes

Author
item Niyigenal, Valens - University Of Arkansas
item Coffey, Kenneth - University Of Arkansas
item Coblentz, Wayne
item Young, A. - University Of Arkansas
item Philipp, D. - University Of Arkansas
item Bartimus, Haley - Lincoln University Of Missouri
item Rhein, Robert - University Of Arkansas

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/22/2016
Publication Date: 7/19/2016
Citation: Niyigenal, V., Coffey, K.P., Coblentz, W.K., Young, A.N., Philipp, D., Bartimus, H.L., Rhein, R.T. 2016. Correlation of fermentation characteristics with intake and digestibility of alfalfa silage in gestating ewes. Journal of Animal Science. ADSA/ASAS Joint Meeting, July 19-23, 2016. Salt Lake City, UT.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Baled silage production provides benefits to farmers because it reduces leaf losses, and requires a shorter wilting time, thereby limiting risks of exposure to rain compared with making hay. Our objective was to investigate the correlation of alfalfa silage fermentation parameters with intake and digestibility in gestating ewes. Alfalfa from 3 field blocks was baled in large round bales at a mean moisture concentration of 59.1 ± 4.30% and then wrapped with plastic either the day of baling, or 1, 2, or 3 d after baling; this resulted in considerable variability in silage fermentation measurements. Following approximately 5 mo. of storage, the alfalfa was chopped, then offered for individual ad libitum consumption by 16 gestating ewes (63.5 ± 1.71 kg avg. BW) where total feces were collected for 7 d following a 10-d dietary adaptation in each of 3 different periods. Diets were re-randomized to different ewes for each period such that ewes were not offered the same treatment in any period. Data were analyzed using PROC CORR of SAS to determine the correlation between alfalfa fermentation parameters with intake and digestibility measurements. Dry matter and OM intakes were correlated positively (P < 0.05) with silage moisture, and lactic acid and propionate concentrations, and negatively (P < 0.05) with ADF concentrations. Dry matter and OM digestibilities were correlated positively (P < 0.05) with proportion of lactic acid to total acids (mole/100 moles), but negatively (P < 0.05) with ADF concentration, and OM digestibility was also correlated positively (P < 0.05) with silage pH. Digestibility of ADF was correlated positively (P < 0.05) with silage pH, but negatively with water content, lactic acid, total acids, and propionate. Digestible DM and OM intakes (g/kg BW) were correlated positively (P < 0.05) with water content of silage, total silage acids, lactic acid, propionate and butyrate. Therefore, managing alfalfa silage to ensure more desirable fermentation should also result in greater intake of digestible organic matter which should improve overall energy status of ruminants. The study was supported in part by USDA-ARS specific cooperative agreement 58-3655-4-052.