Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Silage quality of forage of an extensively used meadow

In Switzerland, the landscape is to be enriched and the diversity of species shall be promoted with the preservation of meadows, which are managed extensively. The forage of such meadows, particularly that of the first cut, has a low nutritional value. Different trials enabled us to test the silage quality of such forage. Over a period of three years, first cut forage of a meadow (cutting date about 15 June) and partially the second respectively third cut was ensiled in laboratory silos. Besides treatments without additive, silage additives (a chemical and two biological products) were also used, in addition the forage was ensiled with different pre-wilting degrees. As far as the botanical composition is concerned, the forage was grass-rich. Only in the third year the proportion of herbs increased slightly. With the relatively high crude fibre content, the forage could be compacted only badly. In all three years, the untreated silages of the first cut showed high butyric acid contents and therefore a bad fermentation quality. The silages of the second respectively third cut always had a better quality in comparison to the first cut. The fermentation quality was improved by the use of the different silage additives. Also with an increasing pre-wilting degree, the butyric acid fermentation was reduced. As for the forage of the first cut, which has only a low nutritional value, the question is, whether the use of a silage additive is economically sound, or whether the preparation of hay, dried in the field, is not a more sensible method of conservation.

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