Assessment of dietary ratios of red clover and corn silages on milk production and milk quality in dairy cows

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7982-7992
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
Early online date27 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2016
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Twenty-four multiparous Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were used in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square changeover design experiment to test the effects of changing from corn (Zea mays) silage to red clover (Trifolium pratense) silage in graded proportions on feed intakes, milk production, and whole-body N and P partitioning. Three dietary treatments with ad libitum access to 1 of 3 forage mixtures plus a standard allowance of 4 kg/d dairy concentrates were offered. The 3 treatment forage mixtures were, on a dry matter (DM) basis: (1) R10: 90% corn silage and 10% red clover silage, (2) R50: 50% corn silage and 50% red clover silage, and (3) R90: 10% corn silage and 90% red clover silage. In each of 3 experimental periods, there were 21 d for adaptation to diets, and 7 d for measurements. Diet crude protein intakes increased, and starch intakes decreased, as the silage mixture changed from 90% corn to 90% red clover, although the highest forage DM intakes and milk yields were achieved on diet R50. Although milk fat yields were unaffected by diet, milk protein yields were highest with the R50 diet. Whole-body partitioning of N was measured in a subset of cows (n = 9), and both the daily amount and proportion of N consumed that was excreted in feces and urine increased as the proportion of red clover silage in the diet increased. However, the apparent efficiency of utilization of feed N for milk protein production decreased from 0.33 g/g for diet R10 to 0.25 g/g for diet R90. The urinary excretion of purine derivatives (sum of allantoin and uric acid) tended to increase, suggesting greater flow of microbial protein from the rumen, as the proportion of red clover silage in the diet increased, and urinary creatinine excretion was affected by diet. Fecal shedding of E. coli was not affected by dietary treatment. In conclusion, even though microbial protein flow may have been greatest from the R90 diet, optimum feed intakes and milk yields were achieved on a diet that contained a 1:1 DM mixture of corn and red clover silages


  • corn silage, milk production, nitrogen balance, red clover silage