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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Effects of harvest date and grass species on silage cell wall components and lactation performance of dairy cows

Sousa, D. O.; Murphy, M.; Hatfield, R.; Nadeau, E.

Abstract

This study evaluated the effect of harvest date and forage species on the concentration of hydroxycinnamic acids in silage and its relationship to dairy cow performance. Tall fescue and timothy were harvested at a regular date on June 27 and July 8, respectively, or at a late date on July 8 and 25, respectively, in the first regrowth. Forage was treated with a salt-based additive and ensiled in hard-pressed round bales. Forty-seven lactating dairy cows were used in a block design. Cows received 1 of 4 treatments: (1) tall fescue harvested at regular date (RTF), (2) timothy harvested at regular date (RTI), (3) tall fescue harvested at late date (LTF), and (4) timothy harvested at late date (LTI). Diets were formulated to have the same forage-to-concentrate ratio (46:54 on a dry matter basis). Harvesting at late date increased fiber components, but only for timothy, where LTI contained greater neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, and acid detergent lignin concentrations than the other silages. Concentrations of hydroxycinnamic acids were affected by forage species, where concentrations of esterified ferulic acid and pcoumaric acid were greater for tall fescue silages than for timothy silages. Cows fed the RTI diet showed the greatest intakes of dry matter, organic matter, and crude protein. Feeding diets containing timothy silages increased milk yield and energy-corrected milk yield compared with tall fescue diets when averaged over harvest dates. Cows fed the RTI diet had greater milk protein yield than cows fed the RTF and LTF diets, and milk lactose yield was greater for cows fed diets containing timothy silage compared with tall fescue silage when averaged over harvest dates. Cows fed the LTF diet showed greater urinary N excretion compared with the LTI diet, but RTI showed the lowest urinary N and urea N excretions when calculated as percent of N intake. Cows fed diets containing timothy silage excreted more uric acid than cows fed tall fescue diets. Allantoin excretion was greater for cows eating the RTI and LTI diets compared with cows eating the RTF diet. Cows fed the RTI diet had a greater estimated microbial N flow and a greater excretion of hippuric acid than the RTF and LTF groups. In conclusion, besides the effect of harvest date on increasing the fiber components of timothy, concentrations of hydroxycinnamic acids were mainly affected by forage species; consequently, milk production was only affected by forage species. This indicates that hydroxycinnamic acids, such as ferulic acid, which cross-links to glucuronoarabinoxylans, was a major factor regulating milk production of cows fed tall fescue- and timothy silage-based diets, where lower hydroxycinnamic acid concentrations were responsible for greater milk yield.

Keywords

ferulic acid; forage quality; tall fescue; timothy

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2021, Volume: 104, number: 5, pages: 5391-5404
Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC

      SLU Authors

    • UKÄ Subject classification

      Animal and Dairy Science

      Publication identifier

      DOI: https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2020-19362

      Permanent link to this page (URI)

      https://res.slu.se/id/publ/111885