Free Access
Reprod. Nutr. Dev.
Volume 42, Number 6, November-December 2002
Page(s) 559 - 572
Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 42 (2002) 559-572
DOI: 10.1051/rnd:2002041

Protein degradation in the rumen of red clover forage at various stages of growth and conserved as silage or wrapped big bales

Jocelyne Aufrère, Dominique Graviou and Camille Demarquilly

Unité de Recherches sur les Herbivores, Équipe Valeur des Aliments, INRA Clermont-Ferrand Theix, 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France
(Received 5 March 2002; accepted 6 November 2002)

In order to study the extent to which rumen soluble nitrogen can contribute to the intestinal flow, a study was carried out to simultaneously assess the dynamics of protein disappearance from dacron bags placed in the rumen and the amount of various N products in the rumen fluid (total nitrogen (tN), ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N), non-ammonia nitrogen (NAN)). The measurements were carried out on 4 sheep fed successively various red clover forages. These forages included the initial growth of fresh red clover (50% bud, first flower, and full flower). In addition, one silage and one wrapped big bale at the first flower stage and two wrapped big bales (harvested at 51% and 71% dry matter) at the full flower stage were given. The effective degradability of nitrogen (DegN) for a fresh forage estimated from the nylon bag procedure did not vary ( p > 0.05) with the vegetation stage (0.727 for the bud stage, 0.694 at the first flower, 0.706 at the full flower). The DegN of the silage was higher ( p < 0.05; 0.735) and the DegN of the wrapped big bale was markedly lower ( p < 0.05; 0.660), than the original fresh forage at the first flower. The DegN of the wrapped big bales made at 51 and 71% DM, respectively, were 0.625 and 0.604 against 0.706 for fresh forage at the full flower stage. The concentrations of tN and NAN in the rumen fluid were low, highest 1 h to 2 h after feeding, and then decreasing up to 7 h after feeding whatever the growth stage and conservation mode. A part of the solubilised nitrogen remained as protein 1 h after feeding for fresh red clover harvested at various growth stages, while minimal protein could be seen in the rumen fluid after the sheep were fed silage or wrapped big bales. The part of NAN escaping rumen degradation and transiting with the rumen fluid was between 7 and 13% of the nitrogen disappearing from the nylon bags (NAN/CP $\times$ DegN) placed in the rumen. There was only a small difference for forages at different stages of growth, or modes of conservation. This fraction was higher for wrapped big bales and particularly for the late stage forage (wrapped big bale, 71% DM, harvested at the full flower stage).

Key words: red clover / vegetation stage / conservation method / protein degradation / rumen fluid composition

Correspondence and reprints: Jocelyne Aufrère

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2002