Forage beets

Forage beets supplementation in dairy cows fed fresh ryegrass

Maria Villagrasa & Fernando Diaz

In areas where pasture is the main type of food, the low efficiency in nitrogen use causes its excess to be excreted and accumulated in the waterways and groundwater. To avoid this, crops with lower N concentrations in their dry matter (DM) compared to pasture have been sought; one such crop is forage beets (Beta vulgaris).

Forage beet is a biennial plant that can grow at temperatures between 8-25oC and is tolerant to drought as well as frost. It produces underground tubers that are shaped like a rounded cylinder and are easily harvested. It has a relatively low DM content (between 12% and 20%) as well as protein (about 6-10% DM basis), calcium and phosphorus. The neutral detergent fiber is 42.0% DM basis, and the acid detergent fiber 22.7%, DM basis. Forage beets can result in a feedstuff of high nutritional and digestible value also highly palatable to dairy cattle.

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Fodder beet in grazing systems: impact on nitrogen utilization

Carlos Moroni & Fernando Diaz

High-quality forage is an important component of the dairy cow diet in pasture-based milk production systems. Commonly used pasture is characterized by good digestibility, and a high protein concentration. It is important that these diets are well balanced since excess protein (particularly rumen degradable protein) generates excess ammonia in rumen and blood and increased urinary N excretion. Excessive nitrogen (N) generates inefficiencies due to higher energy expenditure for its metabolism and greater environmental impact.

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