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Impact of the maturity of corn for use as silage in the diets of dairy cows on intake, digestion, and milk production

By M. A. Bal, J. G. Coors and R. D. Shaver

Abstract

Whole-plant corn was harvested at early dent, quarter milkline, two-thirds milkline, and black layer stages to evaluate the effects of maturity on intake, digestion, and milk production when corn was fed as silage in the diet. Twenty multiparous Holstein cows were used in a replicated experiment with a 4 × 4 Latin square design with 28-d periods. Diets containing 50 % forage (67 % corn silage and 33 % alfalfa silage) and 50 % concentrate (dry matter basis) were fed as total mixed rations. Moisture contents were 69.9, 67.6, 64.9, and 58.0 % for silages from corn harvested at early dent, quarter milkline, two-thirds milkline, and black layer stages, respectively. Intakes of dry matter were similar across the four treatments and ranged from 3.73 to 3.79 % of body weight. Milk production was highest (33.4 kg/d) for cows fed silage from corn harvested at the two-thirds milkline stage and lowest (32.4 kg/d) for cows fed silage from corn harvested at the early dent stage. Milk protein production was highest for cows fed silage from corn harvested at the two-thirds milkline stage (1.17 vs. 1.12 to 1.13 kg/d). Apparent total tract digestion of dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, acid detergent fiber, and starch was lowest for cows fed silage from corn harvested at the black layer stage. Although starch intake was similar for cows fed silage from corn harvested at the two-thirds milkline stage and for cows fed silage from corn harvested at the black layer stage (9 kg/d), intake of digestible starch was 0.4 kg/d lower for cows fed silage from corn harvested at the black layer stage. The optimum stage for corn that was ensiled was two-thirds milkline with some flexibility between quarter and twothirds milkline. ( Key words: corn silage, intake, digestion, milk production) Abbreviation key: BL = black layer, ED = early dent, LAB = lactic acid bacteria, 1/4 ML = quarte

Year: 1997
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.414.7833
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