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2.1- Energy: PDF Print E-mail

Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy. The energy needs of dairy cows can be divided between those of maintaining a cow and those related to milk production. If energy is not supplied in fodder, the bacteria in a dairy cow’s rumen cannot convert proteins and milk production falls. Forage contains from 30 to 90% fibres, the percentage increasing with the age –ripening or maturity- of a plant. However, an increase in the fibre content of a plant also means an increase in the amount of lignin present and carbohydrates become less available to the microbes in a cow’s rumen and, as a result, the energy value of the forage falls. Thus, ideally, forage should be grazed or harvested at an early stage of a plant’s life cycle in order to maximise the energy it contributes. (Forage maize silage is an exception due to the high content of digestible starch –fibre- in its grains. Maize is not grown on the Vista Alegre farm but is a bought-in as a fodder supplement). The average carbohydrate content of the pea family (Leguminosae) is 60%. Grasses (Gramineae) such as cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata), fescue (Festuca sp.) and the rye-grasses (Lolium sp.) contribute more energy.



Special corner for schools: visit our special corner for schools for special information about our farm and the farm dairy. There are resource materials for teachers. In this corner you can find out how to arrange a class outing to our farm.

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