Novel Analysis Technique Gives More Accurate Measurement of Silage Feed Value

UK - “A key requirement for dairy farmers and their advisors is to determine how the maize silage changes in the clamp over time,” says Dr Robin Turner, maize specialist with Caussade Semences.
calendar icon 23 October 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

“To look at this in detail, we commissioned a trial using Duo CS Maize at the Royal Agricultural College (RAC), Cirencester this season. After harvest, the silage will be fed to the RAC’s dairy herd at Kemble Farm and the clamps will be sampled every few weeks after opening to monitor the stability of the silages as well as their detailed nutritional composition. Of particular interest are the levels of digestible fibre in the silage and the ratios of fast and slow starch contents.”

For this stage of the trial, Caussade are working closely with Bioparametrics Ltd, who use a novel gas analysis method for more accurate determination of the feed value of silages. The Bioparametrics system mimics more closely what happens to the silage entering the rumen. It predicts how long it takes to starts being digested - the lag time - and how fast it is actually broken down. Both of these factors affect intake levels and production.

Dr Turner explains that digestible fibre in the diet is the key to performance and good rumen health: “The fibre forms a mat in the rumen, called ‘Active Fibre’ by Bioparametrics, and that promotes cudding and increases the production of saliva to help reduce acidity in the rumen.

“High rumen pH actually promotes the efficiency of the fibre-digesting microbes, encouraging even greater production from forage. The net result is more milk from forage, provided that digestible fibre is present in the first place.

“We are also keen to use this trial to look at other aspects of feeding cows correctly as, with a more accurate silage analysis, we can go on to the next step when the data from the silage analysis can be incorporated into the Biopara-Milk model for ration formulation."

This model produces all the usual statistics farmers are familiar with for cow diets - but also, uniquely, predicts the rumen pH and if the ration is balanced for energy and protein levels. A good pH and proper balance between the levels of fast and slow energy and protein in the ration are critical to maximising cow performance.

The Biopara-Milk model offers several major benefits to dairy and beef farmers as it gives a very detailed picture of overall rumen activity which can then be managed to give improved health, performance and production from forage. All of these mean better sustainability and profitability for the future.

Finally, adds Dr Turner, they hope to actually monitor what is going on in the rumen of cows throughout the feeding trial: “We are negotiating for access to some 'Well-Cow' boluses which will be inserted into the rumen of selected cows. These boluses will allow us to monitor rumen pH in real time over the course of the trial, adding to the other information being gathered.

“As we said at the outset of this trial, we want to emphasise the disconnect between growing the maize crop and feeding it correctly and to engage farmers in discussions about feeding ruminants correctly and production from forage generally. By talking to us, dairy and beef farmers will have the advantage of understanding the Duo CS maize concept better, investigating Bioparametrics and Biopara-milk, and being able to put the results of the feeding trial into context."

TheCattleSite News Desk

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