Comparison of barley forage with highest, intermediate, lowest digestible fiber (NDF) with corn forage in high production dairy cattle

Posted on 06.02.2017 | Last Modified 25.06.2019
Lead Researcher (PI): Peiqiang Yu
Institution: University of Saskatchewan
Total WGRF Funding: $61,000
Co-Funders: None
Start Date: 2015
Project Length: 3 Years

To develop alternative feeding strategies based on NDF digestibility to efficiently utilize new developed forage barley and forage corn in sustainable dairy system for improving animal production and health. To increase basic knowledge of the nutritional relevance of forage barley and corn and to apply this information to the production of high quality feeding programs and to aid forage barley and corn breeding programs.

Project Summary:

Research Findings:

It was found that:

  1. Corn silage showed a significantly higher level of starch and energy content and higher degradation of dry matter than barley silages.
  2. Although corn silage exhibited lower rumen degradable crude protein and degraded protein balance than barley silage, the truly absorbed bypass crude protein and metabolic protein were the same for all silages.
  3. Rumen fermentation and microbial protein synthesis did not differ among barley silage varieties. Corn silage tended to have a higher microbial protein yield than all barley silage diets.
  4. Cows fed corn silage produced more milk and had greater feed efficiency than cows fed barley silage.

Summary and Take Home Message:

In summary:

  1. The year-to-year effect would affect NDFD more than the genetic selection.
  2. Corn silage (P7213R) may be an appropriate option as forage source for high producing dairy cows in Western Canada.
  3. The corn forage (P7213R) should be provided with protein rich forages in dairy cow diet to maximize ruminal microbial protein synthesis. In vitro fibre or dry matter degradability should be used by barley breeders as one of their main breeding targets.