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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.

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Animal Science
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