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Main research question/goal
With this empirical research study,  ILVO and University College Ghent (HoGent) want to get clarity on how starch and protein degradability in the rumen of both silage maize and corn cob mix (CCM) is affected by the ensiling period, in addition to the better known effects such as genotype (dent versus flint maize) and by the maturity stage at harvest. The goal is to develop a validated model based on simple parameters, thus enabling the farmer to estimate more precisely what the feeding value is as well as the risk for rumen acidosis. Silage maize and CCM consist of one-third and two-thirds of starch, respectively. It is known that the place (rumen or small intestine), where starch is degraded (digested), affects the nature and amount of nutrients.


Research approach
At Hogent’s experimental farm, micro-silos are made with 6 varieties of silage maize and 2 varieties of grain maize, which were harvested at two dry matter stages. The silos are opened after 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16 months of preservation. ILVO determines the starch and protein degradability of the silage material using the nylon bag method (cows are fitted with a rumen cannula). Then, we investigate to what extent simple parameters are related to the in vivo value. Potential predictors of starch degradability are dry matter and starch content, the washable starch fraction, the ammonia fraction and the days of ensiling. The developed models are validated with samples originating from farms.

We expect an immediate use of the results and of the model by farmers who, using a conscious ration calculation, strive for optimal milk production and animals with fewer health problems. For this reason we make great efforts to communicate these results and inform the sector. The results are published in a scientific journal as well as in agricultural magazines. In addition, informational and demonstrative meetings should facilitate implementation of this knowledge in practice.

External partner(s)
Hogeschool Gent
Effective start/end date16/09/1315/09/15

ID: 4162295