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Doctoral thesis, 2009

Whole-crop cereals for growing cattle : effects of maturity stage and chopping on intake and utilisation

Rustas, Bengt-Ove


The effects of maturity and chopping of whole-crop cereal silage on intake, digestibility, live-weight gain and feeding behaviour of growing cattle were evaluated. Organic matter digestibility of whole-crop barley and wheat, mainly explained by fibre concentration and digestibility, decreased from the heading stage to the milk stage of maturity. In barley it did not change between the milk and dough stages, but in wheat it increased. In general, intake was greatest at the dough stage of maturity, probably due to higher dry matter content and lower fibre concentration of the whole-crop silages. Live-weight gain followed the same pattern due to the higher intake. Chopping increased intake, more so in light steers than in heavy, when whole-crop barley was harvested at dough stage, but not at heading stage. Lower intake of unchopped silage seemed to be caused by long awns affecting light steers more than heavy. Eating rate increased with chopping but rumination time was unaffected. In conclusion, whole-crop barley and wheat should be harvested at the heading or dough stage of maturity when fed to growing cattle and preferably chopped at dough stage.


cattle; feed crops; feed intake; digestibility; weight gain; feeding level; diet

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2009, number: 2009:74
ISBN: 9789157674210
Publisher: Dept. of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

URI (permanent link to this page)