Indexed on: 05 Oct '02Published on: 05 Oct '02Published in: Journal of Dairy Science
Twenty Holstein cows were used in an 8-wk randomized block design study to determine the effects of replacing corn silage with ryegrass silage on nutrient intake, apparent digestion, milk yield, and milk composition. The 8-wk trial consisted of a 2-wk preliminary period followed by a 6-wk collection period. Experimental diets were formulated to provide 55.5% of the total dry matter (DM) as forage. Ryegrass silage was substituted for 0, 35, 65, and 100% of DM provided by corn silage. Dietary concentrations of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF) increased as ryegrass silage replaced corn silage. Intake of DM and crude protein (CP) was similar for all treatments, but intake of NDF and ADF increased linearly as ryegrass silage replaced corn silage. Apparent digestibility of DM declined linearly, whereas digestibility of CP increased linearly as ryegrass silage replaced corn silage. Apparent digestibility of NDF and ADF was highest for the diets in which ryegrass or corn silages provided all of the forage, resulting in a quadratic response. Dry matter intake was not different among treatments. Yield of milk, fat, and protein increased as ryegrass silage replaced corn silage. No differences were observed for body weight change, body condition score, and serum urea nitrogen concentration, but serum glucose concentration increased with increasing dietary proportion of ryegrass silage. These results indicate that substituting ryegrass silage for a portion or all of the corn silage in diets fed to lactating dairy cows can improve yield of milk and components.