Comparison of Hay and Haylage from Permanent Alpine Meadows in Winter Dairy Cow Diets
Borreani, G. | Giaccone, D. | Mimosi, A. | Tabacco, E.
In an Alpine environment, diets based on local forage resources are needed to maintain the link with the territory and confer special characteristics to typical cheeses. Harvesting at a late stage of maturity, high mechanical losses, and frequent rainfall often make the hay that is harvested of a poor quality. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of 2 different conservation methods (late hay, LH, vs. early haylage, ES) of natural permanent meadows on milk production in dairy cows, on the chemical and microbiological characteristics of the milk, and on the quality of the cheese over the winter period. Haylage and hay were harvested from the same permanent meadow at the Vittorino Vezzani experimental farm in Sauze d'Oulx (45°02'N, 6°53'E, Italy). The ES forage was cut 4 wk earlier than traditional hay, wilted for 30 h, baled at a dry matter (DM) content of about 50%, wrapped with 6 layers of stretch film, and stored in a protected area. The LH forage was harvested later, when the weather conditions were favorable and, after a 3-d wilting, it was baled and stored indoors. After an 8-mo storage period, the ES had a greater crude protein concentration, organic matter digestibility, and net energy for lactation than LH and a lower neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber. Forty multiparous lactating Aosta Red Pied cows were used in a 19-d period crossover design to assess the nutritional value of the stored forages. The diets included ES fed ad libitum and 3.5 kg of DM per cow of concentrate or LH fed ad libitum and 5.1 kg of DM per cow of concentrate. The dietary DM was 90.1% for the LH and 59.9% for the ES. The diets contained 12.6 and 13.0% crude protein and 48.6 and 48.0% neutral detergent fiber, for the LH and ES, respectively. The forage intake was greater in the ES treatment than in the LH treatment. The ES treatment produced more milk (1.7 kg/d) and more 3.5% fat-corrected milk (1.5 kg/d) than the cows on the LH treatment. The milk fat and protein concentrations were similar in both diets, resulting in a greater protein yield in the ES treatment. The lactose, pH, total bacterial count, and somatic cell count were not different for the treatments. The clostridial spores did not differ between the treatments from preharvest forage to cheese, and no differences were found in terms of cheese quality after maturation. Conserving forage as wrapped bale silage combined with an earlier harvesting date than traditional hay resulted in a suitable method to improve forage quality without increasing the risk of clostridial contamination in the milk and cheeses.Show more [+] Less [-]