Inclusion of wheat and triticale silage in the diet of lactating dairy cows

M. T. Harper, J. Oh, F. Giallongo, G. W. Roth, A. N. Hristov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The objective of this experiment was to partially replace corn silage with 2 alternative forages, wheat (Triticum aestivum) or triticale (X Triticosecale) silages at 10% of the diet dry matter (DM), and investigate the effects on dairy cow productivity, nutrient utilization, enteric CH4 emissions, and farm income over feed costs. Wheat and triticale were planted in the fall as cover crops and harvested in the spring at the boot stage. Neutral- and acid-detergent fiber and lignin concentrations were higher in the wheat and triticale silages compared with corn silage. The forages had similar ruminal in situ effective degradability of DM. Both alternative forages had 1% starch or less compared with the approximately 35% starch in corn silage. Diets with the alternative forages were fed in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square design experiment with three 28-d periods and 12 Holstein cows. The control diet contained 44% (DM basis) corn silage. In the other 2 diets, wheat or triticale silages were included at 10% of dietary DM, replacing corn silage. Dry matter intake was not affected by diet, but both wheat and triticale silage decreased yield of milk (41.4 and 41.2 vs. 42.7 ± 5.18 kg/d) and milk components, compared with corn silage. Milk fat from cows fed the alternative forage diets contained higher concentrations of 4:0, 6:0, and 18:0 and tended to have lower concentrations of total trans fatty acids. Apparent total-tract digestibility of DM and organic matter was decreased in the wheat silage diet, and digestibility of neutral-and acid-detergent fiber was increased in the triticale silage diet. The wheat and triticale silage diets resulted in higher excretion of urinary urea, higher milk urea N, and lower milk N efficiency compared with the corn silage diet. Enteric CH4 emission per kilogram of energy-corrected milk was highest in the triticale silage diet, whereas CO2 emission was decreased by both wheat and triticale silage. This study showed that, at milk production of around 42 kg/d, wheat silage and triticale silage can partially replace corn silage DM and not affect DM intake, but milk yield may decrease slightly. For dairy farms in need of more forage, triticale or wheat double cropped with corn silage may be an appropriate cropping strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6151-6163
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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