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Finishing of store lambs on silage based diets 3. effects of formic acid with or without formaldehyde as silage additives and barley supplementation on silage intake and lamb performance



Finishing of store lambs on silage based diets 3. effects of formic acid with or without formaldehyde as silage additives and barley supplementation on silage intake and lamb performance



Irish Journal of Agricultural Research 25(3): 363-378



Silage was cut from a perennial ryegrass sward in late May/early June with a double-chop flail harvester and ensiled either as untreated silage (U) or treated with formic acid at 2.3 l/tonne (FA) or with an equal mixture of formic acid and formalin (35% formaldehyde) at 4.6 l/tonne (FF). The silages were fed ad lib to Galway store lambs (41 kg liveweight) either alone or supplemented with barley at 250 or 500 g/lamb/day over a period of 12 weeks, using 24 lambs per treatment. All of the lambs were group fed on outdoor slatted platforms except one replicate group of six light lambs from each treatment that was kept indoors from weeks 3 to 12. The three silages were well preserved and were similar in chemical composition and DM digestibility. Silage intake was, however, less for the FA silage (625 g/day) than for the U or FF silages (713 or 750 g/day) when fed alone (p < 0.001) and also when supplemented with barley. This was due to a lower and more variable DM content of the FA silage than of the other silages, as a result of showery weather during ensiling. Barley supplementation had little effect on silage intake when fed at 250 g/day (0-7%) but reduced silage intake by 17-24% when fed at 500 g/day, resulting in a substitution rate of 0.48-0.53 g silage DM/g barley DM fed. Total DM and estimated ME intakes were, however, considerably increased by barley supplement. Lambs performed poorly when fed on silage alone. Barley supplementation improved lamb performance and produced a good response to the first increment, e.g., 29 g liveweight gain (LWG)/100 g barley DM fed. The response to the second increment was much less, averaging only 8 g LWG/100 g barley DM. A high proportion of the gain in liveweight consisted of an increase in gut fill and consequently the gain in empty-body weight was reduced. However, most of the gain in empty-body weight presented an increase in carcass gain (80%). The results show that where the untreated silage was well preserved the addition of formic acid or a mixture of formic acid and formaldehyde was of not benefit in terms of increasing silage intake or improving lamb performance. Barley supplementation was essential to produce satisfactory lamb gains. While the response in lamb gains to feeding a high level of barley (500 g/day) was reduced, it increased the feeding capacity and carcass again/ha of silage compared with feeding a low level (250 g/day).

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