Silage fermentation characteristics of three common grassland species in response to advancing stage of maturity and additive application



This study investigated the effects of advancing stage of maturity and additive treatment on the fermentation characteristics of three common grassland species. Perennial ryegrass (PRG; Lolium perenne L., var. Gandalf), timothy (Phleum pratense L., var. Erecta) and red clover (Trifolium pratense L., var. Merviot) were harvested at three dates in the primary growth (11 May, 8 June and 6 July; Harvests 1–3) and ensiled with the following additive treatments: (1) control (i.e. no treatment), (2) formic acid-based additive, (3) homofermentative lactic acid bacterial (LAB) inoculant and (4) heterofermentative LAB inoculant. Additive application to the PRG (irrespective of harvest date), the late-harvest timothy (Harvest 3) and the red clover (Harvests 2 and 3) herbages had little impact on silage fermentation characteristics, where a lactic acid dominant fermentation already prevailed. However, the application of the formic acid-based additive to the Harvest 1 and 2 timothy and Harvest 1 red clover herbages, where the silage fermentation characteristics were poorer, resulted in an increase in the proportion of lactic acid in total fermentation products and a decrease in pH. In contrast, the heterofermentative LAB inoculant had a negative impact on silage fermentation characteristics where a poor preservation prevailed in the corresponding control silage.