A recent European study shows that inoculating alfalfa silage with SiloSolve® MC significantly improves feed quality, resulting in higher milk yields in dairy cows.
The controlled field trial, which was conducted at the Lithuanian Institute of Animal Science, was designed to test the effect of feeding dairy cows only forage treated with SiloSolve® MC, a silage inoculant that contains three strains of lactic acid bacteria, compared to a control group fed untreated alfalfa silage.
“Alfalfa is a protein-rich and high-value forage, but it’s difficult to ensile because it spoils easily,” says Product Manager Mai-Brit Voss. “SiloSolve® MC improves silage fermentation by optimizing the ratio of lactic to acetic acid, reducing pH and limiting the ability of spoilage microorganisms to grow. As a result, feed quality improves, and as this study shows, better quality feed results in better milk yields."
In the study, investigators wilted harvested alfalfa to 65.8% moisture and divided it into two test groups: an untreated control and a group fed alfalfa silage treated with 150,000 cfu/g forage of SiloSolve® MC. The alfalfa was ensiled in big bales averaging 1,322±154 lbs for 90 days.
The investigators then blocked 18 pairs of Lithuanian black and white lactating cows by parity and milk production, allocating one cow in each pair to the control and the other to inoculated silage treatment. Cows were randomly assigned to individual feeding gates to measure feed intake.
Over the 92-day milk production study, the cows were fed a diet consisting of a fixed amount of concentrate (15.4 lbs/day as fed) and alfalfa silage (± SiloSolve® MC) ad libitum. Endpoints included feed intake, milk production and milk composition, which were recorded daily, as well as somatic cell count (SCC) in milk as an indicator of silage quality.
The results show that SiloSolve® MC dramatically improved fermentation, as indicated by 26% lower ammonia-N levels than the untreated feed. Yeast and mold spoilage microorganisms were also significantly reduced (Table 1).
Compared to control, cows fed inoculated silage had lower SCC per ml milk throughout the experiment, confirming the better quality of their feed (Table 2). The better feed quality also correlated to a 5.2% increase in energy-corrected milk (ECM) yields compared to control (Figure 1).
“These findings clearly demonstrate that SiloSolve® MC improves the fermentation of alfalfa, and consequently, the quality of the feed,” Voss concludes. “The better the feed quality, the better the quality and quantity of milk — and the better the returns for the producer.”