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A study was conducted to determine the effect of conserving bahiagrass as outdoor-stored hay (OSH), barn-stored hay (BSH), or baleage (BAL) on storage losses and lactation performance by Holstein cows. For baleage production, bahiagrass forage was cut and allowed to dry for 20. h in windrows, baled (1.2×1.4. m), and individually wrapped with white stretch film. Forage cut on the same day was dried to hay stage, baled (1.2×1.6. m round bales), and stored either outdoors (OSH) or in an enclosed hay barn (BSH). Bales were core sampled and weighed at harvest and again following a 6-mo storage period. At the end of the storage period, 30 multiparous mid-lactation Holstein cows [39.2 ± 5.6. kg of 3.5% fat-corrected milk and 142 ± 27 d in milk (DIM)] were stratified according to milk yield and DIM and randomly assigned to 1 of the 3 forage conservation treatments. Cows were trained to Calan feeding gates and were offered a common partial mixed ration in a 10-d covariate period followed by a 42-d treatment feeding period. Forage dry matter losses were highest for OSH, but were similar between BSH and baleage. Conservation method had little effect on poststorage crude protein levels, but acid detergent fiber and neutral detergent fiber concentrations were higher in OSH than in either BSH or BAL, which resulted in a 12.8% depression in net energy for OSH compared with the other treatments. Dry matter intake (20.5 vs. 22.1. kg/d) and milk yield (28.2 vs. 30.2. kg/d) tended to be lower for OSH than for BSH. Lactation performance was similar between BSH and BAL: 29.6 versus 28.7. kg/d of fat-corrected milk, respectively. No differences in milk composition, feed efficiency, body weight, or body condition score change related to conservation system were observed. In this study, dry matter losses and lactation performance from bahiagrass conserved as baleage were similar to that of similar forage stored indoors as hay, whereas hay stored outside resulted in less satisfactory forage quality. © 2011 American Dairy Science Association.

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Journal of Dairy Science

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