• α-tocopherol;
  • β-carotene;
  • legume;
  • grass;
  • ensiling;
  • additive


Effects of wilting, ensiling and type of additive on α-tocopherol and β-carotene contents in legume–grass mixtures were examined. Swards of birdsfoot trefoil + timothy (Bft + Ti), red clover + timothy (Rc + Ti) and red clover + meadow fescue (Rc + Mf) were harvested as a first regrowth in August 2005. Forage was wilted to a dry-matter (DM) content of 273 g kg−1 and ensiled without additive or with an inoculant or acid. Wilting decreased α-tocopherol concentration by 30% in the Bft + Ti mixture (= 0·015). Untreated Bft + Ti silage had higher α-tocopherol content than red clover silages (56·9 vs. 34·2 mg kg−1 DM; = 0·015). The α-tocopherol concentration of Bft + Ti forages increased during ensiling from 41·1 mg kg−1 DM in wilted herbage to 56·9, 65·2 and 56·8 mg kg−1 DM in untreated, inoculated and acid-treated silage respectively (= 0·015). The inoculant increased α-tocopherol content in the red clover silages (50·1 vs. 34·2 mg kg−1 DM; = 0·015) compared with untreated red clover silages. Red clover mixtures had lower β-carotene content than Bft + Ti (32·3 vs. 46·2 mg kg−1 DM; = 0·016), averaged over treatments. In conclusion, wilting had small effects but the use of bacterial inoculant as an additive and a Bft + Ti mixture increased α-tocopherol concentration in the silage.