Silage balls in a foggy landscape

Baling grass silage with tannins reduces environmental nitrogen load

Alvaro Garcia

The fate of nitrogen (N) ingested by dairy cows is approximately 34% in milk protein synthesis, 34% eliminated in the urine, 27% in the feces, with only 5% retained to be used in other body processes. These figures show that close to 60% of the nitrogen intake ends up being a source of environmental N load.

Not only is N tied-up in urine and feces but it also results in gaseous N losses through nitrous oxide which is also a greenhouse gas nearly 300-fold more potent than carbon dioxide. Ammonia gas production is also of concern since it is hazardous both for humans and livestock. As a result, improving N partitioning will have an effect in the environmental load associated with livestock production as well as air quality.

What is the effect of adding tannins to the silage on cow’s nitrogen metabolism?

Oak tannins applied to forage before baling it for silage improve protein partitioning in the cow lessening the environmental N load. Research has shown that adding tannins to forages before ensiling can lead to a reduction in ammonia production. Tannins have also been used to protect fermentable protein from rumen degradation which is later digested once it is freed from the tannin complex once it reaches the more acidic pH of the abomasum. This latter effect results in less plasma urea N, less milk urea N, and reduced N excretion in the urine.

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Three cows eating total mixed ration (TMR)

Organic acid-based products can improve milk production

Alvaro Garcia

Mixers and total mixed rations (TMRs) are the feed delivery method of choice in modern dairy operations in confinement. Their greatest advantage is that they allow for more even delivery of nutrients, and a steadier rumen fermentation. In fact, it is this technology that has allowed cows to fully express their genetic potential for production, encouraging greater intakes, and higher milk yields.

Cow response however is associated to the quality of the feedstuffs included in the TMR. Individual feeds can suffer deterioration when exposed to less than ideal conditions (e.g. air, heat, moisture, etc.) that lead to proliferation of microorganisms, toxins, that reduce feed quality. Molds and yeasts for example have been known to consume organic matter in silages, reducing their feeding value and/or producing toxins detrimental to animal performance and health.

Organic acids inhibit the proliferation of bacteria and fungi

Several additives have been researched that inhibit the proliferation of microorganisms. Organic acids for example inhibit the proliferation of bacteria and fungi helping maintain the nutritive value of the feed and reduce potential mycotoxin toxicity. Their mechanism of action has been proposed to be by allowing hydrogen to enter the microorganisms cell membrane, thus reducing the pH in the cell cytoplasm. Propionic acid for example, has been demonstrated to reduce pH and temperature when added to the TMR.

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Harvesting corn fields

Application of exogenous proteases in corn silage

Andrés Haro & Fernando Diaz

Several types of enzymes have been used as silage additives to improve the nutritive value of corn silage. One of them are proteases, which accelerate the fermentation process. The addition of exogenous protease enzymes at corn harvesting can increase starch degradability in the rumen by acting on the prolamin–starch matrix. However, it has been reported that high level of proteases may stimulate the growth of yeasts in corn silage.

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Improving silage quality and fermentability with silage additives

Improving silage quality and fermentability with silage additives

Fernando Díaz

Silage was defined as the product formed when grass or other material of sufficiently high moisture content, liable to spoilage by aerobic microorganism, is stored aerobiologically.

Belgian researchers assessed the potential of four silage additives to improve fermentability and nutrient composition during the ensiling process of silages made with five different mixture ratios of ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) and red clover (Trifolium pratense). The five forage blends were 100% ryegrass, 75% ryegrass: 25% red clover, 50% ryegrass: 50% red clover, 25% ryegrass: 75% red clover, and 100% red clover, on a fresh matter basis.

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