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Finishing store lambs on silage based diets 4. effects of stage of grass growth when ensiled and barley supplementation on silage intake and lamb performance



Finishing store lambs on silage based diets 4. effects of stage of grass growth when ensiled and barley supplementation on silage intake and lamb performance



Irish Journal of Agricultural Research 26(2-3): 139-152



A primary growth of herbage was cut from a perennial-ryegrass-dominant sward following 6 (S1), 8 (S2) or 10 (S3) weeks growth. The herbage was ensiled directly using a double-chop harvester and treated with formic acid at 2.5 litres/tonne. The silages were subsequently fed ad libitum to Galway store lambs (38.5 kg) either alone or supplemented with 300 g barley/lamb/day for 12 weeks. The lambs were subdivided into 4 groups of 6 lambs per treatment and were group fed outdoors on uncovered slatted platforms. A silages were well preserved. Delaying harvesting increased yield (3.9, 5.7 and 8.0 t DM/ha) but reduced silage DM digestibility (77.2, 72.6 and 70.5%). Silage DM intakes were reduced on the more mature silages (787, 559 and 437 g/day) and consequently lamb performance was also poor on these silages, i.e. 24, -11 and -59 g daily liveweight gain (DLG) on S1, S2 and S3, respectively. For each 1% unit decrease in silage DM digestibility, silage intake was reduced by about 50 g DM/day and the efect on lamb performance became more pronounced as the herbage ensiled increased in maturity. Barley supplementation had little effect on silage intake (-6 to +7%) but greatly increased total DM intakes (+26 -66%) and estimated metabolizable energy (ME) intake (+31 -84%), particularly on the more mature silage. Barley supplementation improved lamb performance on the three silages, resulting in an average response of 31 g DLG/100 g barley DM fed or 24 g DLG/MJ ME increase in intake. A high proportion of the liveweight gain consisted of carcass gain (59-75%) when the lambs were supplemented with barley. When supplemented with barley carcass gain/ha was higher on S2 silage than on S1 silage (+18%), due to a higher feeding capacity which more than offset the poorer lamb performance on S2 silage. Carcass gain/ha was much poorer on S3 silage than on either of the earlier cut silages.

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