Skip to main content

Intake, live-weight gain and carcass characteristics of beef cattle given diets based on forage maize silage harvested at different stages of maturity

  • E. M. Browne (a1), D. T. Juniper (a1), M. J. Bryant (a1), D. E. Beever (a1) and A. V. Fisher (a2)...

Advancing maturity of forage maize is associated with increases in the proportion of dry matter (DM) and starch, and decreases in the proportions of structural carbohydrates in the ensiled crop. This experiment investigated the effects of three maize silages of 291 (low), 339 (medium) and 393 (high) g DM per kg fresh weight on the performance of 48 Simmental X Holstein-Friesian cattle. Equal numbers of steers (mean start weight = 503 (s.d. 31.3) kg) and heifers (mean start weight = 378 (s.d. 11.2) kg) were offered individually isonitrogenous diets composed of the three silages plus a protein supplement with minerals once daily until slaughter at the target live weight of 575 and 475 kg for steers and heifers, respectively. Intake was reduced on the low diet (P < 0.01) compared with the other two treatments. Dietary starch intake increased by a total of 1 kg/day between low and medium diets but by only 0.2 kg/day between medium and high diets. Unlike starch intake, total neutral-detergent fibre intake showed no significant difference (P > 0.05) between diets. There were no differences in live-weight gain between treatments but differences (F < 0.05) in food conversion efficiency indicated relative gains of 115,100 and 102 g gain per kg DM intake for diets low, medium and high, respectively. There were no differences between diets in carcass weights, fat score and overall conformation.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author. E-mail:
Hide All
Agricultural and Food Research Council. 1995. Energy and protein requirements of ruminants. An advisory manual prepared by the AFRC Technical Committee on Responses to Nutrients. CAB International, Wallingford.
Allen, D. M. 1992. Rationing beef cattle. Chalcombe Publications, Canterbury.
Andrea, J. G., Hunt, C. W., Pritchard, G. T., Kennington, L. R., Harrison, J. H., Kezar, W. and Mahanna, W. 2001. Effect of hybrid, maturity, and mechanical processing of corn silage on intake and digestibility by beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science 79: 22682275.
Broadbent, P. J., Mcintosh, J. A. R. and Spence, A. 1970. The evaluation of a device for feeding group housed animals individually. Animal Production 12: 245252.
Browne, E. M. 2000. Maize silage-based diets for finishing beef cattle. Ph. D. thesis, University of Reading.
Browne, E. M., Bryant, M. J. and Beever, D. E. 1999. Intake, growth rate and carcass quality of beef cattle fed maize silage harvested at three stages of maturity. Proceedings of the British Society of Animal Science, 1999, p. 83 (abstr.).
Calder, F. W., Langille, J. E. and Nicholson, J. W. G. 1977. Feeding value for beef steers of corn silage as affected by harvest dates and frost. Canadian journal of Animal Science 57: 6573.
Cammell, S. B., Sutton, J. D., Beever, D. E., Humphries, D. J. and Phipps, R. H. 2000. The effect of crop maturity on the nutritional value of maize silage for lactating dairy cows. 1. Energy and nitrogen utilization. Animal Science 71: 381390.
Cartee, R. L., Kim, D. Y., Arambel, M. J. and Kohler, W. R. 1994. Feeding corn silage harvested at two maturities to growing dairy heifers. Proceedings of the American Society of Animal Science, New Mexico (Western Section), vol. 45, pp. 249252.
Chamberlain, H. C., Fribourg, H. A., Barth, K. M., Felts, J. H. and Anderson, J. M. 1971. Effect of maturity of corn silage at harvest on the performance of feeding heifers. Journal of Animal Science 33: 161166.
De Brabander, D. L., De Boever, J. L. and Buysse, F. X. 1990. The quality and utilisation of maize silage for dairy cattle. Proceedings of the second annual conference of the Maize Growers Association, Berkshire College of Agriculture.
Di Marco, O. N., Aello, M. S., Nomdedeu, M. and Houtte, S. van. 2002. Effect of maize crop maturity on silage chemical composition and digestibility (in vivo, in situ and in vitro). Animal Peed Science and Technology 99: 3743.
Ferret, A., Gasa, J., Plaixats, J., Casanas, E., Bosch, L. and Nuez, F. 1997. Prediction of voluntary intake and digestibility of maize silages given to sheep from morphological and chemical composition, in vitro digestibility or rumen degradation characteristics. Animal Science 64: 493501.
Giardini, A., Vecchiettini, M. and Lo Bruno, A. 1976. Energy supplementation of maize silage harvested at different maturity stages. Animal Peed Science and Technology 1: 369379.
Givens, D., Cottyn, B. G., Dewey, P. J. S. and Steg, A. 1995. A comparison of the neutral detergent-cellulase method with other laboratory methods for predicting the digestibility in-vivo of maize silages from three European countries. Animal Feed Science and Technology 54: 5564.
Harrison, J. H., Johnson, L., Riley, R., Xu, S., Loney, K., Hunt, C. W. and Sapienza, D. 1996. Effect of harvest maturity of whole plant corn silage on milk production and component yield, and passage of corn grain and starch into the faeces. Journal of Dairy Science 79: (suppl. 1) 149A (abstr.).
Henderson, H. E., Ritchie, H., Allen, C. K. and Cash, E. 1971. Housing systems and dry matter content of corn compared. Journal of Animal Science 33: 1140A (abstr.).
Kempster, A. J., Cuthbertson, A. and Harrington, G. 1982. Carcass evaluation in livestock breeding, production and marketing. Granada, St Albans.
Kilkenny, J. B. 1976. Maize silage for beef cattle. Beef Improvement Services, Meat and Livestock Commission, Milton Keynes.
Lovett, D. K. 2000. Predicting the nutritive value of maize silage within productive ruminant systems. Ph. D. thesis, University of Reading.
MacRae, J. C. and Armstrong, D. G. 1968. Enzyme method for determination of alpha linked glucose polymers in biological materials. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 19: 578581.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. 1993. Predictions of the energy values of compound feedingstuffs for farm animals. MAFF Publications, London.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. 1986. The analysis of agricultural materials, MAFF reference book 427. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. 1982. The feedingstuffs (sampling and analysis) regulatory instrument no. 1144. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. 1992. UK tables of feed composition and nutritive value for ruminants, second edition. Chalcombe Publications, Canterbury.
Phipps, R. H., Fulford, R. J. and Weller, R. F. 1981. The effect of maize silage grain content on live weight gain in beef cattle. Maydica XXVI: 9399.
Phipps, R. H., Sutton, J. D. and Beever, D. E. 1998. The influence of maize silage maturity on forage intake and milk production of Friesian-Holstein dairy cows in the United Kingdom. Journal of Dairy Science 81: (suppl. 1) 978A.
Porter, M. G., Patterson, D. C., Steen, R. J. W. and Gordon, F. J. 1984. Determination of dry matter and gross energy of grass silage. Proceedings of the seventh silage conference on silage production and utilization, Belfast (ed. Gordon, F. J. and Unsworth, E. F.), pp. 8990.
Rahnefeld, G. W., Fredeen, H. T., Weiss, G. M., Lawson, J. E. and Newman, J. A. 1983. Sex and year effects on carcass characteristics of three-way cross beef cattle reared at two locations. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 63: 285298.
Reynolds, C. K., Sutton, J. D. and Beever, D. E. 1997. Effects of feeding starch to dairy cattle on nutrient availability and production. In Recent advances in animal nutrition (ed. Garnsworthy, P. C. and Wiseman, J.), pp. 105133. Butterworth, London.
Shaver, R. D., Erdman, R. A., O'Conner, A. M. and Vandersall, J. H. 1985. Effects of silage pH on voluntary intake of corn silage and alfalfa haylage. journal of Dairy Science 68: 338346.
Statistical Analysis Systems Institute. 1992. SAS technical support P-229, SAS/STAT software: changes and enhancements, release 6. 07. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC.
Thomas, C. and Wilkinson, J. M. 1975. The utilisation of maize silage for intensive beef production. 3. Nitrogen and acidity factors affecting the nutritive value of ensiled maize. Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 85: 255261.
Wilkinson, J. M., Newman, G. and Allen, D. M. 1998. Maize: producing and feeding maize silage. Chalcomb Publications, Lincoln.
Wilkinson, J. M., Penning, I. M. and Osbourne, D. F. 1978. Effect of stage of harvest and fineness of chopping on the voluntary intake and digestibility of maize silage by young beef cattle. Animal Production 26: 485491.
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: 4 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 104 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.