1 October 1999

Clover silage booster for cow DMintake

RED and white clover silage can increase cow dry matter intake and milk yield in winter compared with grass silage alone, according to new research results reported at the EDFE.

Richard Dewhurst of the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research said that feeding 100% red clover silage showed the most promising response in the first winter of a MAFF, MDC and EU-funded study.

The study used pure red clover, white clover, lucerne and grass silage made in many cuts to investigate effects of different crops and mixtures on intake and milk yield. The crops were fed with 8kg of concentrate freshweight.

Lucerne and red clover both show more than 2kg dry matter increases in silage intake above grass silage.

But lucerne resulted in no milk yield response. "Its possible that the lack of response was because of lucernes lower digestibility and leaf shatter. This year we have taken four cuts rather than three to improve quality," added Dr Dewhurst.

Red clover fed as the only forage resulted in yields of 32kg a cow a day; 4.5kg higher than grass silage. Milk fat was also higher with red clover, and milk protein lower.

Feeding red clover and grass silage in equal amounts also produced a good response with milk yields over 30kg a cow.

Milk yields from feeding a 100% white clover silage were about 1kg higher than red clover, although milk fat was lower than feeding grass silage.

"But white clover only produces half the yield in the field – so it isnt commercially viable. However, it shows that if you can include it in conservation swards it will be beneficial," said Dr Dewhurst.

Feeding 50% white clover and 50% grass silage resulted in 2.5kg more yield than feeding 100% grass silage.

"Red clover produces good yields when grown in a pure swards, as we did for control of feeding in the study. But it can be grown with hybrid or Italian ryegrasses."

LEGUMESILAGES

&#8226 Red clover most potential.

&#8226 Grow white clover in swards.

&#8226 Lucerne?