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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Effects of hybrid and maturity on performance and nutritive characteristics of forage maize at high latitudes, estimated using the gas production technique

Hetta, Mårten; Mussadiq, Zohaib; Gustavsson, Anne-Maj; Swensson, Christian


We evaluated effects of hybrid and advancing plant maturity on performance, chemical composition, and nutritional characteristics of whole plant forage maize as well as the relative contributions of its plant fractions at high latitudes. Three maize hybrids, Avenir (FAO 180), Isberi (FAO 190) and Burli (FAO 210), were grown in southern Sweden in a field experiment with a replicated complete randomized block design. Plants were harvested four times during maturation, and dry matter (DM) yield and DM as a proportion of fresh weight were recorded. Whole plants were separated into four morphological fractions representing stems, leaves, kernels and cobs and the contribution of each fraction to the DM of the whole plant was estimated. Plant material was subjected to chemical analysis followed by measurement of in vitro gas production (GP) in buffered rumen fluid and finally, by calculation of in vitro true digestibility of organic matter (OM) and neutral detergent fibre (aNDFom). The GP profiles were fitted to a first order kinetic model with a discrete lag. Parameters describing the GP profiles were used in a recently developed mechanistic two compartment rumen degradation model to estimate in vivo OM digestibility (OMD) and first order rate of degradation in the rumen. Hybrids were compared and effects of maturity were assessed by analysis of variance using DM concentration as covariate. There were differences (P<0.05) among the hybrids in DM yield and relative contributions of the plant fractions. Differences (P<0.05) in modelled in vivo digestibility of OM and rates of degradation also occurred among hybrids. Increased maturity caused a reduction in in vitro digestibility of aNDFom in all plant fractions (P<0.05), but increased the rate of rumen degradation of OM in the whole plant as evaluated from GP results. The DM yield had a quadratic relationship with increasing maturity, with maximum yield at a DM concentration of about 370 g/kg. In vitro GP can describe the nutritive characteristics of forage maize in relation to advancing maturity and increased maturity affected agronomic performance and plant composition as well as the nutritive characteristics of hybrids. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Gas production; Hybrids; Maize; Maturity; Plant fractions; Rumen degradation

Published in

Animal Feed Science and Technology
2012, Volume: 171, number: 1, pages: 20-30

    SLU Authors

    • Hetta, Mårten

      • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Mussadiq, Zohaib

        • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
        • Gustavsson, Anne-Maj

          • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
          • Swensson, Christian

            • Department of Rural Buildings and Animal Husbandry [LBT], Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

          UKÄ Subject classification

          Animal and Dairy Science
          Agricultural Science
          Veterinary Science

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