Grass silage produces healthier milk than hay

Staff Report

MARCENAT, France: French researchers at the Herbivore Research Center have found that dairy cows eating grass silage produce milk that is higher in Beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids than those eating hay.

The switch from grass silage to hay induced a rapid decrease in the concentration of beta-carotene and vitamin E and the color index of the milk in the first two weeks.

Beta-Carotene in the milk had fallen to less than half the previous level after two weeks of hay feeding.

Pools of beta-carotene in the adipose tissue of the animal also decreased by 40% when fed hay for two weeks.

The French researchers said consumers can tell much about the diet of the cow producing the milk by observing the color of the milk.

They found there was a definite correlation between the amount of yellow color seen in the milk and the amount of beta-carotene found in the milk. In other words, the yellower the milk appears, the healthier it is for you.

Apparently, beta-Carotene, vitamins A and E, and the omega 3 fatty acids are very volatile and are negatively affected by the wilting process.

Previous research in Wales found that unwilted silage produced higher omega-3 fatty acid concentrations than wilted silage.

The French researchers also found that if hay was fed for less than two weeks, beta-carotene and vitamin E had enough persistence in the milk to largely offset this short period of hay feeding.

by The Stockman Grass Farmer


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