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Effect of reduced ferulate-mediated lignin/arabinoxylan cross-linking in corn silage on feed intake, digestibility, and milk production

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Cross-linking of lignin to arabinoxylan by ferulates limits in vitro rumen digestibility of grass cell walls. The effect of ferulate cross-linking on dry matter intake (DMI), milk production, and in vivo digestibility was investigated in ad libitum and restricted-intake digestion trials with lambs, and in a dairy cow performance trial using the low-ferulate sfe corn mutant. Silages of 5 inbred corn lines were fed: W23, 2 W23sfe lines (M04-4 and M04-21), B73, and B73bm3. As expected, the W23sfe silages contained fewer ferulate ether cross-links and B73bm3 silage had a lower lignin concentration than the respective genetic controls. Silages were fed as the sole ingredient to 4 lambs per silage treatment. Lambs were confined to metabolism crates and fed ad libitum for a 12-d adaptation period followed by a 5-d collection period of feed refusals and feces. Immediately following the ad libitum feeding trial, silage offered was limited to 2% of body weight. After a 2-d adaptation to restricted feeding, feed refusals and feces were collected for 5 d. Seventy Holstein cows were blocked by lactation, days in milk, body weight, and milk production and assigned to total mixed ration diets based on the 5 corn silages. Diets were fed for 28 d and data were collected on weekly DMI and milk production and composition. Fecal grab samples were collected during the last week of the lactation trial for estimation of feed digestibility using acid-insoluble ash as a marker. Silage, total mixed ration, feed refusals, and fecal samples were analyzed for crude protein, starch, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), cell wall polysaccharides, and lignin. The W23sfe silages resulted in lower DMI in the ad libitum trial than the W23 silage, but DMI did not differ in the restricted trial. No differences were observed for NDF or cell wall polysaccharide digestibility by lambs with restricted feeding, but the amount of NDF digested daily increased for lambs fed the M04-21 W23sfe silage ad libitum. Lambs were less selective against NDF and lignin when offered W23sfe silages. The B73bm3 silage did not affect DMI or digestibility of cell walls at the restricted feeding level, but total daily NDF digested was greater at ad libitum intake. Intake, milk production, and cell wall digestibility were greater for cows fed diets containing W23sfe silages than for those fed W23 silage. Although milk production was greater for the B73bm3 diet, DMI and cell wall digestibility were not altered. Cows were less selective against cell wall material when fed both W23sfe and B73bm3 silages. Reduced ferulate cross-linking in sfe corn silage is a new genetic mechanism for improving milk production.
H.G. Jung , D.R. Mertens , R.L. Phillips
Journal of dairy science 2011 October v.94 no.10
Elsevier Inc.
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed