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Tall fescue has lower digestibility than timothy/meadow fescue

Tall fescue has lower digestibility than timothy/meadow fescue

In this Finnish study two grass leys were compared, a mixture of timothy (Phleum pratense) and meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis) and a pure tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea). Both leys were divided into three parts harvested at three different dates; 19 June, 26 June and 3 July during the summer of 2006. The crop was prewilted for 8-24 h before round-baling and they used an acid based additive to improve ensiling.

Dry matter (DM) of the wrapped bales varied from 36-55% (Table 1). There were no differences in the fibre fractions for the silages harvested on the same date (Table 1).

Text 78.1 tabell 1 eng

The silages were fed to 6 mares (5-13 years, 624±36 kg) and fulfilled the maintenance requirements. Palatability for both silages was good, but some refusals were found from the two later harvests of the tall fescue silage. For both silages the digestibility was highest with the earliest harvest as the grasses were in an earlier stage of development (Table 2). However there were differences between grass species. The mares digested the nutrients more efficiently of the timothy/meadow fescue silage than the tall fescue silage (Table 2).

Text 78.1 tabell 2 eng

In conclusion the tall fescue silage had lower digestibility at all three harvest dates which implies that it could be a grass species suitable for forage production to horses with lower nutritive requirements, for example horses that do not perform any hard work and easily gain weight.

Sara Muhonen, AgrD

Särkijärvi S, Sormunen-Cristian R, Heikkilä T, Komppa J, Rinne M, Saastamoinen M & Jauhiainen L. 2008. Effect of grass species and time of cutting on in vivo digestibility in horses and sheep. In: Nutrition of the exercising horse, EAAP publication No. 125, pp. 351-354.

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