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Silage and milk production comparisons between grass silage of 3 different chop lengths

Silage and milk production comparisons between grass silage of 3 different chop lengths

Grass and Forage Science 34(4): 293-302

Three grass silages of different chop lengths made from a uniform sward of 'S23' perennial ryegrass were compared in 4 experiments including a feeding experiment with 12 lactating cows, an eating behavior study, a rate of passage investigation and a selection trial. The silages had median chop lengths of 9.4, 17.4 and 72.0 mm, termed short, medium and long with pH values of 3.93, 3.94 and 4.17 and D-values [digestibility] of 65.9, 65.2 and 64.4, respectively. The daily intakes of silage DM and the daily milk yields increased as silage chop length decreased. The milk yield response to shorter chopping was significant with a supplement of groundnut but not significant with a supplement of sugar-beet pulp. Chop length had small and generally non-significant effects on milk composition. Eating and ruminating times expressed as min per kg DM decreased as silage chop length decreased but the retention time of the silage residues in the entire digestive tract was not significantly affected by chop length. When offered simultaneously, the intakes of the individual silages were 52.2, 31.9 and 15.9% of the total DM intake for the short, medium and long treatments, respectively. Although silage with a chop length of 9 mm had nutritional advantages over longer silages the mechanical and economic aspects of silage making must be considered fully when defining optimum chop length.

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