What type of forage maize for optimal performances and minimum emissions with dairy cattle ?

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    Using a carefully designed feeding trial with dairy cows, ILVO examines to what extent the commercial claims of two important breeders of silage maize are valid. Recent years have seen a heavy discussion between two companies. The first company maintains that silage maize should contain as much starch as possible for maximum dairy performances and that cell walls have no energy value. The other states that leaves and stems of the maize plant also contribute to the energy value. These opposing views are also questioning the current net energy evaluation system (VEM, VEVI).  

    Research approach
    In a feeding trial with highly productive cows we compare two types of silage maize: one with highly digestible cell walls, the other with a high starch content. The basal ration, consisting of 65% of maize silage and 35% of grass silage, is fed ad libitum and supplemented with concentrates to meet the individual requirements of energy and protein. We measure the effects on feed intake, rumen fermentation, digestibility, the emissions of methane and nitrogen as well as the milk production performances.

    With this experiment we provide dairy farmers with objective information about the type of silage maize that is most appropriate for their farming conditions. By choosing the right maize type they can better obtain high milk production and lower the emissions into the environment. The nature of the nutrients (starch, cell walls) has repercussions on rumen fermentation and possibly also on the amount of methane which is released during digestion. Moreover, the current energy evaluation system (VEM, VEVI), may need nuancing according to which nutrient makes little difference in energy contribution. The results of the research are published in a scientific journal as well as in farming magazines and presented during informative meetings. This should lead to implementation in practice.   


    Funding provider(s)
    ILVO - Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en voedingsonderzoek
    Effective start/end date1/10/1330/09/14