Maize silage was used on 25% of New Zealand dairy farms in 2003/2004, with 26% of these farms feeding 2 t DM/ha as maize silage. The nutritional value and animal responses to maize silage fed with pasture are well defined, but its impact on rumen methane emissions is not. In an 11-day indoor feeding trial, 32 Friesian dairy cows in mid lactation were fed ad libitum pasture with 0, 12, 24 and 36% of the dry matter (DM) intake supplied by maize silage. Pasture and maize silage intakes, milk production and methane emissions were measured. Half of the cows in each treatment group were given intra-ruminal slow release monensin capsules. Total DM intakes were similar for all feed treatments. As maize silage intake increased, milksolids (MS) production decreased linearly from 1.73 (pasture only) to 1.46 kg/day (P = 0.0043, SED = 0.09) and methane emissions increased from 16.3 to 19.0 g/kg DMI (P = 0.0061, SED = 1.03). Increasing proportions of maize silage in a pasture-based diet increased methane emissions from lactating dairy cows. These effects were alleviated by monensin. KEYWORDS: dairy cows; methane emissions; milk production; perennial ryegrass; maize silage.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, Christchurch, 356-361, 2005
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