Effects of harvest time and added molasses on nutritional content, ensiling characteristics and in vitro degradation of whole crop wheat

  • Xia, Chuanqi ;
  • Liang, Yixun ;
  • Bai, Sarula ;
  • He, Yang ;
  • Muhammad, Aziz Ur Rahman ;
  • Su, Huawei ;
  • Cao, Binghai
  • Received : 2017.07.21
  • Accepted : 2017.09.29
  • Published : 2018.03.01


Objective: Wheat is an alternative to corn silage for ruminant feeding in northern China. This study examined the effects of harvest time and added molasses on nutritional content, ensiling characteristics and in vitro degradation of whole crop wheat (WCW). Methods: Fresh WCW at the milk-ripe stage was harvested at 0700 h (i.e., in the morning [Mo]) and 1700 h (i.e., in the afternoon [Af]), and then immediately used to prepare silage and make hay. Commercial molasses was added to Af WCW at 0%, 2%, 4%, and 6% (fresh weight) proportions. The WCW treated with molasses was mixed thoroughly prior to ensiling. Results: Dry matter (DM), neutral detergent fiber, water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) content (p<0.01), accumulative gas production in 72 h ($GP_{72h}$, 77.46 mL/g vs 95.15 mL/g) and dry matter disappearance in vitro (69.15% vs 76.77%) were lower (p<0.05), while crude protein (CP) content was higher for WCW silage (WCWS) compared to WCW (p<0.01). The propionic acid and butyric acid concentrations in WCWS from Mo WCW were 1.47% and 0.26%, respectively. However, the propionic and butyric acid concentrations were negligible, while the ammonia nitrogen/total nitrogen ($NH_3-N/TN$, p<0.01) concentration was lower and the rate of gas production at 50% of the maximum (17.05 mL/h vs 13.94 mL/h, p<0.05) was higher for Af WCWS compared to Mo WCWS. The incubation fluid's $NH_3-N$ concentration was lower in WCWS and Af WCW compared to Mo WCW (p<0.05). The CP and WSC content increased with increasing molasses levels (p<0.05). Furthermore, the pH (p<0.01) and time when gas production was 50% of the maximum (2.78 h vs 3.05 h, p<0.05) were lower in silage treated with 4% molasses than silage without molasses. Conclusion: Harvesting wheat crops in the afternoon and adding molasses at 4% level to WCW optimally improved ensiling characteristics, leading to well-preserved silage.


Harvest Time;Molasses Addition;Nutritional Content;Ensiling Characteristics;In vitro Fermentation;Whole Crop Wheat


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