Hostname: page-component-594f858ff7-7tp2g Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-06-06T16:15:29.326Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": false, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "corePageComponentUseShareaholicInsteadOfAddThis": true, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Beef production from silage 2. The performance of beef cattle given silages of either perennial ryegrass or red clover

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2010

C. Thomas
Grassland Research Institute, Hurley, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 5LR
B. G. Gibbs
Grassland Research Institute, Hurley, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 5LR
J. C. Tayler
Grassland Research Institute, Hurley, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 5LR
Get access


1. A primary growth of perennial ryegrass was cut on 8 to 11 May (early) or on 12 June (late) for comparison with the primary growth of a tetraploid red clover, which was cut either on 1 or 2 June (early) or on 28 June (late). The crops were ensiled, after wilting for about 4h, with the addition of formic acid at 2·21/t fresh crop. The silages were given ad libitum alone or with rolled barley at 11·5 g dry matter per kg live weight to 40 British Friesian steers initially 3 months old and 108 kg live weight.

2. On average there was no significant difference in digestibility between perennial ryegrass and red clover. However, the rate of decline in digestibility with time was greater with perennial ryegrass than with red clover.

3. Calves given silage of red clover as the sole feed ate more dry matter and grew faster than calves given grass silage (P <0·001) but supplementation with barley reduced the intake of red clover silage to a greater extent than that of perennial ryegrass silage. Barley supplementation increased live-weight gain of calves given perennial ryegrass from 0·32 to 0·83 kg/day and that of calves given red clover from 0·63 to 0·99 kg/day (interaction P <0·05). The results did not indicate a higher net efficiency of utilization of the legume. Date of cut had no significant effect on dry-matter intake but earlier cutting resulted in an increase in live-weight gain from a mean of 0·61 to 0·77 kg/day (P <0·001).

4. The results show that high rates of live-weight gain (0·74 kg/day) can be achieved by calves given silage of red clover and that earlier cutting of herbage for silage does not always result in higher intakes of dry matter. Supplementation of silages with barley can reduce markedly the difference in intake and live-weight gain apparent when the silages are given as sole feeds.

Research Article
Copyright © British Society of Animal Science 1981

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Blaxter, K. L. and Wilson, R. S. 1962. The voluntary intake of roughages by steers. Anim. Prod. 4: 351358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blaxter, K. L. and Wilson, R. S. 1963. The assessment of a crop husbandry technique in terms of animal production. Anim. Prod. 5: 2742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Campling, R. C. and Murdoch, J. C. 1966. The effect of concentrates on the voluntary intake of roughages by cows. J. Dairy Res. 33: 111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Day, N., Harkess, R. D. and Harrison, D. M. 1978. A note on red clover silage for cattle finishing. Anim. Prod. 26: 97100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Demarquilly, C. and Dulphy, J.-P. 1977. Effect of ensiling on feed intake and animal performance. In Proc. int. Meet. Anim. Prod, from Temperate Grassld (ed. Gilsenan, B.), pp. 5361. Irish Grassland and Animal Production Association/An Foras Taluntais, Dublin.Google Scholar
Green, J. O., Corrall, A. J. and Terry, R. A. 1971. Grass species and varieties. Relationships between stage of growth, yield and forage quality. Tech. Rep. Grassld Res. Inst., No. 8.Google Scholar
Greenhalgh, J. F. D. and Wainman, F. W. 1980. The utilization of energy in conserved forages. In Forage Conservation in the 80's (ed. Thomas, C.), Occ. Symp. Br. Grassld Soc, No. 11, pp. 122130.Google Scholar
Hunt, I. V., Frame, J. and Harkess, R. D. 1975. Potential productivity of red clover varieties in S.W. Scotland. J. Br. Grassld Soc. 30: 209216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McCarrick, R. B. 1965. Effects of stage of growth and method of herbage conservation on performance of weanling cattle. Ir. J. agric. Res. 4: 161178.Google Scholar
McIlmoyle, W. A. 1978. Silage for beef production. 51st A. Rep. agric. Res. Inst. Nth. Ire., Hillsborough, Co. Down, pp. 2024.Google Scholar
Osbourn, D. F., Terry, R. A., Outen, G. E. and Cammell, S. B. 1975. The significance of a determination of cell walls as the rational basis for the nutritive evaluation of forages. Proc. XII int. Grassld Congr., Moscow, pp. 514519.Google Scholar
Tayler, J. C. and Aston, K. 1976. Milk production from diets of silage and dried forage. 2. Effect of ensiling ryegrass cut at two levels of digestibility and given ad libitum with supplements of dried grass pellets. Anim. Prod. 23: 211221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thomas, C., Aston, K., Gibbs, B. G. and Tayler, J. C. 1981. Beef production from silage. 1. The voluntary intake and live-weight gain of beef cattle given red clover silage. Anim. Prod. 32: 143148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thomson, D. J. 1977. The role of legumes in improving the quality of forage diets. In Proc. int. Meet. Anim. Prod, from Temperate Grassld (ed. Gilsenan, B.), pp. 131135. Irish Grassland and Animal Production Association/An Foras Taluntais, Dublin.Google Scholar
Vadiveloo, J. and Holmes, W. 1979. The effects of forage digestibility and concentrate supplementation on the nutritive value of the diet and performance of finishing cattle. Anim. Prod. 29: 121129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilkins, R. J. 1974. The nutrient value of silages. In University of Nottingham Nutrition Conferencefor Feed Manufacturers: 8 (ed. Swan, H. and Lewis, D.), pp. 167189. Butterworth, London.CrossRefGoogle Scholar