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Finishing of store lambs on silage based diets 1. effect of formic acid treatment or wilting and concentrate supplementation on silage intake and performance of store lambs



Finishing of store lambs on silage based diets 1. effect of formic acid treatment or wilting and concentrate supplementation on silage intake and performance of store lambs



Irish Journal of Agricultural Research 25(3): 327-346



Two experiments were carried out with silage cut from a perennial ryegrass/white clover sward either in early June (1st cut.sbd.Experiment 1) or in August (2nd cut.sbd.Experiment 2). The herbage in each experiment was ensiled either untreated (U) or treated (F) with formic acid (2.5 l/tonne) or wilted for 24 hours prior to harvesting (W) with a double-chop harvester. Each silage was fed ad lib to Galway and Suffolk-.times.store lambs either alone or supplemented with 350 or 700 g concentrates/lamb/day, using 24 lambs per treatment. The lambs were slaughtered at either 7 or 11 weeks in Experiment 1 and at 8 to 12 weeks in Experiment 2. The untreated silages were generally well preserved and consequently formic acid additive or wilting had little effect on silage quality or preservation, apart from increasing lactic acid and dry matter (DM) contents, respectively. When fed alone intake of silage F was less (-14%) than that of silage U in Experiment 1, but in Experiment 2 intake of silage F was similar (+6%) to that of silage U. Intake of silage W was 18 and 26% higher than that of silage U when fed alone in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively. Lamb performance was generally similar on all three silages in each experiment. Concentrate supplementation reduced silage intake by an average of 15-19% at the low level and 27-28% at the high level in both experiments. It had the least effect with silage F and the greatest with silage W. Supplementation increased the intake of total DM and of estimated metabolisable energy (ME) in all cases. Lamb performance was low on all silages when fed alone. The response to the low level of concentrate was 24 to 35 g daily liveweight gain/100 g DM concentrate fed compared with 5-8 g/100 g DM concentrates for the second increment of 350 g concentrates in both experiments. Concentrate supplementation increased the feeding capacity of the silages (+20 to 49%) and improved lamb production/ha from zero on silage alone to 524 and 881 kg carcass gain/ha on the low and high levels, respectively. Consequently, while a moderate level of concentrates supported optimum lamb weight gain, feeding a high level was worthwhile in terms of increased feeding capacity and carcass gain/ha in a two-cut silage system.

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