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Wheat forage was harvested at an early head stage of maturity and ensiled in 12 900-kg experimental silos at three percentages of DM (20.8% for direct-cut forage and 27.9 or 39.3% for wilted forage) either with or without application of a lactic acid bacterial inoculant. The objective was to test the efficacy of the inoculant to alter silage fermentation, preservation, and nutritive value of wheat forage ensiled at different moisture percentages because of wilting. Wilting enhanced DM preservation and decreased fermentation end products. Inoculation made the fermentation more homolactic but did not enhance DM preservation. Silage rations (80% DM as silage) were fed at 1.8% of BW/d to six ruminally and abomasally fistulated steers (350 kg) in an experiment with a Latin-square design and a 3 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Digestive responses to silage diets were not influenced by inoculation. Intake was depressed with direct-cut silage rations. Wilting improved fiber digestibility and was associated with changes in ruminal contents and fermentation end products. Wilting appears to be more effective than inoculation as a postharvest management tool to improve small grain silage. © 1995, American Dairy Science Association. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Dairy Science

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