The effect of fermentation quality on the voluntary intake of grass silage by growing cattle fed silage as the sole feed.J Anim Sci 2007; 85(4):984-96JA
This study was designed to separate the effect of fermentation quality on voluntary intake of grass silage from other feed factors affecting intake. Variations in DMI were quantified, and the impact on intake was modeled. The relationships between individual silage components and intake were examined. A partially balanced changeover experiment with 30 Norwegian Red steers (137 +/- 16.4 kg of BW) was carried out to determine the intake of 24 silages and of hay harvested from the same parent crop within 60 h. Five forages were fed at a time in each of five 3-wk periods. Every 3-wk period was preceded by 2 wk of feeding a standard silage. Silage DMI ranged from 1.79 to 2.65, with a mean of 2.38 kg x 100 kg of BW(-1) x d(-1). Hay DMI averaged 2.43 kg x 100 kg of BW(-1) x d(-1). Ranges (mean) for the composition of silages were as follows: DM, 166 to 237 (213) g/kg; water-soluble carbohydrates, 16.3 to 70.9 (33.0) g/kg of DM; acetic acid, 11.5 to 64.7 (28.6) g/kg of DM; propionic acid, 0 to 5.2 (1.0) g/kg of DM; butyric acid, 0 to 25.1 (6.0) g/kg of DM; lactic acid, 2.2 to 102 (49.3) g/kg of DM; and NH3-N (not corrected for additive-derived N), 89.3 to 255 (153) g/kg of total N. Silage DMI was closely (P < 0.05) related to DM, ADL, VFA, lactic acid, total acids, the lactic acid:total acids ratio, ADIN, NH3-N (not corrected), histamine, tryptamine, cadaverine, and the total sum of amines (the explained variation in intake ranged from 14 to 53%). The 2 best models describing silage DMI included concentrations in the silage of propionic acid, butyric acid, and lactic acid, and these models explained 75 and 84% of the variation in DMI. The strong correlation (r = 0.84, P < 0.05) between total NH3-N and butyric acid concentrations in silages indicates that these variables described the same variation pattern. The inclusion of NH3-N in the equations describing the effect of fermentation quality on DMI of low-DM grass silage was less useful than that of butyric acid. This was due to the confounded relationship between the NH3-N concentration in silages and the use of ammonium-containing preservatives and to difficulties in correcting for the added ammonium.