Dairy cow performance on silage from semi-natural grassland

M.H. Bruinenberg, R.H.E.M. Geerts, P.C. Struik, H. Valk

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The effects of including forage from semi-natural grassland in the diet of dairy cows were studied in a feeding trial with cows in mid-lactation. Diets were compared in which part of the silage from intensively managed grassland was replaced with 0% (100IM), 20% (20SPP), 40% (40SPP) or 60% (60SPP) silage from species-poor semi-natural grassland or with 60% silage from species-rich semi-natural grassland (60SPR). On a dry matter basis, the total mixed ration (TMR) contained 63% grass silage, 18% maize silage and 19% concentrates. Concentrates were either low or high in protein to prevent protein surpluses or shortages. High producing cows were offered additional concentrates in concentrate boxes. The additional concentrates had the same composition as the concentrates in the TMR. With the 60SPP diet voluntary daily intake decreased by 1.4 kg DM cow¿¹ day¿¹. Uncorrected milk production was the same for all diets, but milk fat yield was lower with the 60SPP diet and milk protein yield lower with the 60SPR diet than with the other diets. No statistically significant differences in fat and protein corrected milk production were observed between the 100IM and the 20SPP diet. The fat and protein corrected milk production with the other diets was significantly lower than with 100IM. All cows gained body weight, but there were no statistically significant differences between diets. In conclusion, if used in low quantities (<40%), silage from semi-natural grassland can be included in the diet of lactating dairy cows without reducing production. This conclusion is based on the presented results and cannot be generalized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-110
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • dairy cattle
  • dairy cows
  • animal feeding
  • livestock feeding
  • feeding
  • grazing experiments
  • nutritive value
  • fodder crops
  • milk production
  • ruminants
  • perennial ryegrass
  • white clover
  • digestibility
  • dandelion
  • chickweed
  • spurrey
  • ribwort
  • systems
  • sheep
  • dock

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