7 April 2000

WHITE CLOVER RAISES YIELDS

Dairy producers will benefit from new research presented at

this years British Society of Animal Science conference.

Jessica Buss and James Garner report

MILKING cows achieve higher intakes and yield up to 6.5kg/day more when fed legume silages, particularly white clover.

Speaking at BSAS, Richard Dewhurst of the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research said that red and white clover could be beneficial to cow yields.

Feeding 100% white clover silage with 8kg of concentrate showed the most promising yield response with cows producing 6.5kg/day more than those fed grass silage, at 31.5kg a day. These cows supported extra production by eating 2.4kg more white clover silage dry matter than cows fed just grass silage and concentrate.

"You cant sow a field that is just white clover, but a high proportion of it in a grass ley could be beneficial to intakes and milk production."

However, it would be possible to feed a 50:50 white clover and grass silage as clover content can increase to more than 70% in mid season, said Dr Dewhurst.

Feeding 50% white clover and 50% grass silage resulted in 2.5kg more milk yield – 28kg a cow a day – than feeding 100% grass silage in the study.

Cows fed 100% red clover silage produced 3kg more milk and ate 1kg DM more silage than cows fed grass silage, he added.

"High levels of red clover can depress milk protein %, although its unlikely anyone would feed 100% red clover silage."

Offering red clover silage and grass silage in equal amounts produced more milk/cow in the study, but intakes were the same as when grass silage alone was fed.

"There is also some concern that milk may go off more quickly when cows are fed a high proportion of red clover," he said.

LEGUME SILAGES

&#8226 Increase cow intakes.

&#8226 Higher milk yields.

Feeding 100% white clover silage results in an extra 6.5kg of milk compared with feeding grass silage alone, says Richard Dewhurst.