Storing hay outdoors can result in detrimental changes in forage quality. Additionally, alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cultivar may influence dry matter intake (DMI) and hay waste when feeding livestock. The objectives were to determine the effects of conventional or reduced-lignin alfalfa round bales stored outdoors and wrapped with plastic twine, net wrap, or B-Wrap on forage quality, beef cow preference, and hay waste. Round bales made from reduced-lignin (n = 12) or conventional (n = 12) alfalfa cultivars were baled and stored outdoors for 16 mo. Within each cultivar, four bale replicates were bound with plastic twine, net wrap, or B-Wrap. After storage, bales were fed in a switchback design with period confounded with alfalfa cultivar to 18 lactating Angus cows (Bos Taurus L.). The pairs had ad libitum access to three round-bale feeders where bales of each wrap type were placed for eight 48 h periods. Position of round bale wrap type was rotated according to a Latin Square arrangement. Bales were weighed and waste surrounding each feeder was collected at 24 and 48 h to calculate DMI and hay waste. Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05. Alfalfa cultivar did not impact any of the response variables (P > 0.05). At feeding, round bales wrapped in net wrap had greater (P < 0.015) moisture content (16.4%) compared with those wrapped with B-Wrap (12.8%). Neutral detergent fiber was lower (P = 0.03) in bales wrapped in B-Wrap (46%) compared with twine-tied bales (49%) while net wrapped bales were not different. Total digestible nutrients (P = 0.02), and relative feed value (P = 0.04) were lower in twine-tied bales compared with B-Wrap while net wrapped bales were not different. Twine (7.1 × 106 colony forming units [CFU]/g) and net wrap (4.7 × 106 CFU/g) bales had greater (P < 0.0001) mold counts than B-Wrap bales (4.8 × 104 CFU/g), while concentrations of other forage components and yeast counts were not different among wrap types (P > 0.05). Total DMI, and DMI during the first 24 h, were greater (P ≤ 0.032) for B-Wrap bales compared to twine-tied bales indicating preference for hay wrapped in B-Wrap; net wrapped bales were not different. Dry matter intake in the first 24 h was negatively associated with the mold count (r = −0.52; P = 0.02), and hay waste was not affected by wrap type (P > 0.05). These results confirm that wrap type affected forage quality and mold counts, which in turn influenced beef cattle preference of round bales stored outdoors.
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© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science.
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- Alfalfa hay
- Dry matter intake
- Net wrap
- Plastic twine