Effects of ensiling time on corn silage neutral detergent fiber degradability and relationship between laboratory fiber analyses and in vivo digestibility

A. N. Hristov, M. T. Harper, G. Roth, C. Canale, P. Huhtanen, T. L. Richard, K. DiMarco

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16 Scopus citations


Accurate analysis of degradability of silage neutral detergent fiber (NDF) is important for diet formulation and to predict lactational performance of dairy cows. In this study, 5 corn silage hybrids ensiled for 0 (unfermented), 30, 60, 120, and 150 d were used to determine the effects of ensiling time on silage neutral detergent fiber degradability (NDFD) and to assess the relationships between near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIR) NDF-related analyses and in situ NDFD variables. In addition, the relationships between dietary concentration of indigestible NDF, 288-h incubation (iNDF288), or undegraded NDF, 240-h incubation (uNDF240), and in vivo total-tract apparent organic matter and NDF digestibility were studied in total mixed ration samples from 16 experiments with lactating dairy cows. Ensiling time had no effect on silage NDF concentration; however, the ratio of acid detergent fiber ÷ NDF increased, and estimated hemicellulose concentration decreased quadratically with ensiling time. Also, concentration of NDF-bound protein decreased, and that of lignin increased linearly with ensiling time. These changes in silage fiber composition resulted in a linear decrease in in situ effective degradability of silage NDF with increasing ensiling time. The indigestible fraction of NDF and concentration of structural carbohydrates were not affected by ensiling time. Correlations of in situ NDFD variables with laboratory NIR NDFD analyses were weak to moderate. The relationship of corn silage uNDF240 with lignin concentration or 30-h NDFD (all NIR analyses) was remarkably good (R2 = 0.73 and 0.88, respectively). The relationship between in situ iNDF288 concentration (but not uNDF240) and in vivo total-tract apparent digestibility of dietary organic matter and NDF was good (R2 = 0.72 and 0.80, respectively). In conclusion, in situ degradability of silage NDF linearly decreased from 0 to 150 d ensiling time, primarily caused by a decrease in concentrations of hemicellulose and NDF-bound protein. In situ NDF degradability measurements and common laboratory NIR NDF-related analyses were generally poorly correlated. We found a good relationship between in vivo NDF digestibility and dietary concentration of iNDF288 determined in situ, but the relationship with uNDF240 was poor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2333-2346
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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