Full Paper

Digestion, rumen fermentation and circulating concentrations of insulin, growth hormone and IGF-1 in steers fed diets based on different proportions of maize silage and grass silage

D. T. Junipera1 c1, E. M. Brownea1 p1, M. J. Bryanta1 and D. E. Beevera1

a1 Department of Agriculture, The University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 6AR, UK


Replacing grass silage with maize silage results in a fundamental change in the ratio of structural to non-structural carbohydrates with commensurate changes in rumen fermentation patterns and nutrient utilisation. This study investigated the effects of feeding four forage mixtures, namely grass silage (G); 67 g/100 g grass silage + 33 g/100 g maize silage (GGM); 67 g/100 g maize silage + 33/100 g grass silage (MMG); maize silage (M) to four ruminally and duodenally canulated Holstein Friesian steers. All diets were formulated to be isonitrogenous (22.4 g N/kg DM) using a concentrate mixture. Dietary dry matter (DM) and organic matter (OM) digestibility increased with ascending maize silage inclusion (P < 0.1) whereas starch and neutral detergent fibre digestibility declined (P < 0.05). Ratio of non-glucogenic to glucogenic precursors in the rumen fluid increased with maize silage inclusion (P < 0.01) with a commensurate reduction in rumen pH (P < 0.05). Mean circulating concentrations of insulin were greatest and similar in diets MMG and GGM, lower in diet M and lowest in diet G (P < 0.01). There were no effects of diet on the mean circulating concentration of growth hormone (GH), or the frequency, amplitude and duration of GH pulses, or the mean circulating concentrations of IGF-1. Increasing levels of DM, OM and starch intakes with the substitution of grass silage with maize silage affected overall digestion, nutrient partitioning and subsequent circulating concentrations of insulin.

(Received August 30 2007)

(Accepted February 04 2008)


c1 E-mail: d.t.juniper@reading.ac.uk

p1 Present address: Meat and Livestock Commission, P.O. Box 44, Winterhill House, Snowdon Drive, Milton Keynes MK6 1AX, UK