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 The importance of forage quality 
  
  
 How to Produce Above Average Forage? 
  
  
 KUHN´s contributions for high forage quality 
  
 High Energy and High Nutrient Content
 High Palatability
 Minimum Level of Impurities
 Minimum Spoilage

How to achieve...

 


Having discussed the agronomic context, the topic concerning aspects to monitor to increase feed intake will now be addressed.

Desirable and undesirable species in the forage

Composition is important. For a satisfying feed uptake, it is mandatory to avoid species with low palatability and low feed values, for example velvet grass or tall fescue. Some species are even toxic e.g. meadow saffron or common ragwort. On the other hand, desirable species such as perennial ryegrass and white clover are palatable, rich in nutrients and high in energy, these have to be promoted.

In generally it can be said that young and leafy crops with little fiber content enhance palatability.




Wilting to the correct dry matter content

For hay, it is crucial that the crop is wilted to a dry matter content above 86 %. This is the only way to avoid saprophytes Organisms that feed off dead or decaying matter. on the crop and thus prevent spoilage, which has a negative effect on palatability, feed intake and animal health.

In silage making, a dry matter content between 30 to 40 %(4) should be envisaged. This range provides the best conditions for successful fermentation. A dry matter content above 30 % is very important in order to avoid nutrient losses through silage effluent, to increase the sugar in the forage, as well as preventing the formation of butyric acid. However, the forage should not get too dry either:


Dry matter contents above 40 % favor crumble losses, heat generation and render the silage less compactible. Heat generation, mainly caused by yeasts after the silo is opened, can lead to energy and nutrient losses.







Excellent quality of fermentation

An excellent quality of silage fermentation is critical for whether the cows will accept it or not.

This relates to the promotion of lactic bacteria, the producers of lactic acid and important protagonists in the silage making process. Lactic acid provokes a fast and energy-saving reduction of the pH value, which is the most important condition for correct conservation of the forage. To inhibit additional transformation processes and to ensure the anaerobic stability of the silage, the proportion of lactic acid should be above 50 g/kg DM. The ideal pH range (depending on dry matter content) is 4.3 – 4.7.(5)

Lactic acid is required whilst at the same time increased content of butyric and acetic acid in the silage are completely undesirable. Acetic and butyric acids can cause high energy losses, protein degradation and reduce the silage´s palatability due to unpleasant smell and taste. High-quality silages contain less than 3 g butyric acid per kg DM.(6)

Small quantities of acetic acid below 20-30 g/kg DM positively affect the aerobic stability of the forage as it helps to avoid the development of yeasts. Higher values, above 30 g/kg DM, lead to high energy losses, less palatable silage and therefore reduced feed intake.(7)

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