Effects of Alfalfa and Brown Mid-rib Corn Silage and Level of Forage Neutral Detergent Fiber on Animal Performance of Lactating Cows in Michigan

  • Min, Doo-Hong (Michigan State University, Upper Peninsula Experiment Station) ;
  • Bucholtz, Herb (Michigan State University, Department of Animal Science) ;
  • Naasz, Paul (Michigan State University, Upper Peninsula Experiment Station)
  • Received : 2006.03.24
  • Accepted : 2006.10.27
  • Published : 2007.03.01


Alfalfa silage and corn silage are the major dairy feeds in most dairy operations in Michigan, USA. In recent years, the need to improve digestible fiber and dry matter intake of forages to meet the nutrient requirements of high yielding dairy cows and the willingness to plant corn specifically for silage has led plant breeders to focus on the brown mid-rib (BMR) trait. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of different ratio of alfalfa to BMR corn silage and ration level of forage neutral detergent fiber (NDF) on animal performance of lactating cows in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This study was conducted at the Upper Peninsula Experiment Station of Michigan State University in Chatham, Michigan, USA. Two different ratios of forage type (high alfalfa silage/low BMR corn silage, AS, and high BMR corn silage/low alfalfa silage, BMRCS) and two different dietary NDF contents (27% NDF, 27 = low forage/high grain feeding, and 33% NDF, 33 = high forage/low grain feeding) were used. The experimental design was a $4{\times}4$ Latin Square with 20 milking cows (12 multiparous and 8 primiparous). This trial had four 21-day periods with 14 d adaptation and 7 d data collection. Milk yield and body condition score (BCS) on the AS-27, BMRCS-27 and BMRCS-33 treatments were significantly (p<0.05) higher than on the AS-33 treatment. Dry matter intake of the AS-27 and BMRCS-27 treatments was significantly (p<0.05) higher than for the AS-33 and BMRCS-33 treatments. Milk urea nitrogen (MUN) on the AS-33 treatment was significantly (p<0.05) higher than on the other diet treatments. A key finding of this study was that the BMRCS-33 (higher amounts of brown mid-rib corn silage than alfalfa silage, high forage and low grain feeding diet at 33% NDF) led to the equal highest milk production whilst having the equal lowest dry matter intake. This study demonstrated that the diet with higher ratio of highly digestible NDF forage such as brown mid-rib corn silage to alfalfa silage could lower grain feeding in the ration.


  1. Bal, M. A., R. D. Shaver, H. Al-Jobeile, J. G. Coors and J. G. Lauer. 2000. Corn silage hybrid effects on intake, digestion, and milk production by dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 83:2849-2859.
  2. Eastridge, M. L. 1999. Brown midrib corn silage. Proceedings of Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference. pp. 179-190.
  3. Frenchick, G. E., D. G. Johnson, J. M. Murphy and D. E. Otterby. 1976. Brown midrib corn silage in dairy rations. J. Dairy Sci. 59:2126-2129.
  4. Keith, E. A., V. F. Colenbrander, V. L. Lechtenberg and L. F. Baumen. 1979. Nutritional value of brown midrib corn silage for lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 62:788-792.
  5. Oba, M. and M. S. Allen. 2000. Effects of brown midrib 3 mutation in corn silage on productivity of dairy cows fed two concentrations of dietary neutral detergent fiber: 1. Feeding behavior and nutrient utilization. J. Dairy Sci. 83:1333-1341.
  6. Sommerfeldt, J. L., D. J. Schingoethe and L. D. Muller. 1979. Brown midrib corn silage for lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 62:1611-1618.
  7. Tjardes, K. E., D. D. Buskirk, M. S. Allen, N. K. Ames, L. D. Bourquin and S. R. Rust. 2000. Brown midrib-3 corn silage improves digestion but not performance of growing beef steers. J. Anim. Sci. 78:2957-2965.
  8. Paengkoum, P., J. B. Liang, Z. A. Jelan and M. Basery. 2006. Utilization of steam-treated oil palm fronds in growing goats: 1. Supplementation with dietary urea. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 19:1305-1313.
  9. Cherney, J. H., D. J. R. Cherney, D. E. Akin and J. D. Axtell. 1991. Potential of brown- midrib, low lignin mutants for improving forage quality. Adv. Agron. 46:157-198.
  10. SAS Institute. 1996. SAS/STAT Software: Changes and Enhancements through Release 6.11. SAS Inst. Inc., Cary, NC.
  11. Rook, J. A., L. D. Muller and D. B. Shank. 1977. Intake and digestibility of brown midrib corn silage by lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 60:1894-1904.
  12. Pen, B., T. Iwama, M. Ooi, T. Saitoh, K. Kida, T. Iketaki, J. Takahashi and H. Hidari. 2006. Effect of potato by-products based silage on rumen fermentation, methane production and nitrogen utilization in Holstein steers. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 19:1283-1290.
  13. Sarwar, M., M. Ajmal Khan, Mahr-un-Nisa and N. A. Touqir. 2005. Influence of berseem and Lucerne silages on feed intake, nutrient digestibility and milk yield in lactating Nili buffaloes. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 18:475-478.
  14. Stallings, C. C., B. M. Donaldson, J. W. Thomas, and E. C. Rossman. 1982. In vivo evaluation of brown midrib corn silage by sheep and lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 65:1945-1949.
  15. Grant, R. J., S. G. Haddad, K. J. Moore and J. F. Pedersen. 1995. Brown midrib sorghum silage for midlactation dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 78:1970-1980.
  16. Block, E., L. D. Muller, L. C. Griel, Jr., and D. L. Garwood. 1981. Brown midrib-3 corn silage and heat extruded soybeans for early lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 64:1813-1825.
  17. Wildman, E. E., G. M. Jomes, P. E. Wagner, R. L. Boman, H. F. Troutt, Jr., and T. N. Lesch. 1982. A dairy cow body condition scoring system and its relationship to selected production characteristics. J. Dairy Sci. 65:495-501.
  18. Oba, M. and M. S. Allen. 1999. Effects of brown midrib 3 mutation in corn silage on dry matter intake and productivity of high yielding dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 82:135-142.

Cited by

  1. The effect of hybrid type and dietary proportions of corn silage on the lactation performance of high-producing dairy cows vol.98, pp.2, 2015,