Skip to main content Accessibility help

An evaluation of red clover silage for beef production

  • R. W. J. Steen (a1) and W. A. McIlmoyle (a1)


Two experiments have been conducted to compare wilted, formic acid-treated red clover and unwilted, formic acid-treated grass silages for beef production, and to examine the effects of digestibility of red clover and level of concentrate supplementation on food intake and animal performance.

In experiment 1, 12 groups of four British Friesian steers (initial live weight 229 kg) were given red clover silages of high and low dry-matter digestibility (0·70 and 0·60 respectively) and grass silage (0·71) ad libitum for a period of 11 weeks. Silage dry-matter intake and live-weight gain for the steers given red clover of high digestibility, red clover of low digestibility and grass silages were 7·75, 0·89; 6·91, 0·69; and 5·59, 0·59 kg/day respectively.

In experiment 2, 12 groups of four British Friesian steers (initial live weight 332 kg) were given red clover silage with a dry-matter digestibility of 0·63 and grass silage with a value of 0·76 ad libitum, either unsupplemented or supplemented, with 2 kg/day of fortified barley per head for a period of 19 weeks. Silage dry-matter intake, live-weight gain and carcass gain were 8·52, 0·63, 0·32 and 6·98, 0·78, 0·43 kg/day for the unsupplemented and supplemented red clover silage treatments, and 6·82, 0·59, 0·31 and 5·75, 0·75, 0·44 kg/day for the unsupplemented and supplemented grass silage treatments respectively. The performance of the cattle offered red clover silage was similar to that of cattle offered grass silage of 0·12 higher digestibility, largely as the result of higher dry matter intakes achieved on red clover silage.



Hide All
Alder, F. E., McLeod, D. St L. and Gibbs, B. G. 1969. Comparative feeding value of silages made from wilted and unwilted grass and grass/clover herbage. J. Br. Grassld Soc. 24: 199206.
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.
Collins, D. P., Drennan, M. J. and Flynn, A. V. 1977. Potential of Irish grassland for beef production. Proc. Int. Meet. Anim. Prod. Temperate Grassld, Dublin, pp. 1219.
Day, N., Harkess, R. D. and Harrison, D. M. 1978. A note on red clover silage for cattle finishing. Anim. Prod. 26: 97100.
Dewar, W. A. and McDonald, P. 1961. Determination of dry matter in silage by distillation with toluene. J. Sci. Fd Agric. 12: 790795.
Flynn, V. 1978. The effect of ensiling on the beef production potential of grass. In Proc. 5th Silage Conf., Ayr, pp. 4849.
Flynn, A. V. and Wilson, R. K. 1978.The relative importance of digestibility, ensiling, fermentation and dry matter content in limiting the utilization of silage by beef cattle. Proc. 7th Gen. Meet. Eur. Grassld Fed., Ghent, pp. 6.3–6.15.
Forbes, T. J. and Jackson, N. 1971. A study of the utilization of silages of different dry-matter content by young beef cattle with or without supplementary barley. J. Br. Grassld Soc. 26: 257264.
Frame, J. 1975. Productivity of tetraploid red clover. J. Br. Grassld Soc. 30: 89 (Abstr.).
Frame, J., Harkess, R. D. and Hunt, I. V. 1974. Potentiality studies of red clover (Trifolium pratense L.). Proc. 13th Int. Grassld Congr., Moscow, Section 2, pp. 125129.
Greenhalgh, J. F. D. and Reid, G. W. 1977. Zero grazing of clovers by beef cattle. Proc. Int. Meet. Anim. Prod. Temperate Grassld, Dublin, p. 139 (Abstr.).
Greenhalgh, J. F. D. and Wainman, F. W. 1980. The utilisation of energy in conserved forages. In Forage Conservation in the 80's (ed. Thomas, C.), Occ. Symp. Br. Grassld Soc, No. 11, pp. 122130.
Hinks, C. E., Edwards, I. E. and Henderson, A. R. 1976. Beef production from formic acid-treated and wilted silages. Anim. Prod. 22: 217223.
McIlmoyle, W. A. 1976. Silage for beef production. Occ. Publ. Agric. Res. Inst. Nth. Ire.
Cilmoyle, W. A. 1978. The effect of level of supplementation and silage regrowth interval on the performance of beef cattle. Anim. Prod. 26: 361362 (Abstr.).
MacKie, C. K. and Copeman, G. J. F. 1976. Development of the use of tetraploid red clover. J. Br. Grassld Soc 31: 43 (Abstr.).
Murdoch, J. C. 1964. Some factors affecting the intake of roughage by sheep. J. Br. Grassld Soc. 19: 316320.
Murdoch, J. C. 1967. Factors affecting the voluntary intake of silage and hay. J. Br. Grassld Soc. 22: 9599.
Steen, R. W. J. 1980a. The effect of animal size on the response in animal performance to an improvement in silage quality. Anim. Prod. 30: 467 (Abstr.).
Steen, R. W. J. 1980b. The effect of wilting grass silage and monensin sodium on the intake and performance of beef cattle. Ir. Grassld Anim. Prod. Ass. J. 15: 102 (Abstr.).
Tayler, J. C., Aston, K. and Gibbs, B. G. 1977. Evaluation of the conserved products of grasses and legumes and their use with other feeds for beef production. A. Rep. Grassld Res. Inst., 1976, pp. 9497.
Tayler, J. C. and Wilkins, R. J. 1976. Conserved forage — complement or competitor to concentrates. In Principles of Cattle Production (ed. Swan, H. and Broster, W. H.), pp. 343364. Butterworth, London.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Animal Science
  • ISSN: 1357-7298
  • EISSN: 1748-748X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed