Date of this Version
During 2006 and 2007, forages from 3 individual hay harvests were utilized to assess the effects of spontaneous heating on concentrations of fiber components, 48-h neutral detergent fiber (NDF) digestibility (NDFD), and in situ disappearance kinetics of NDF for large-round bales of mixed alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.). Over the 3 harvests, 96 large-round bales were made at preset bale diameters of 0.9, 1.2, or 1.5 m, and at moisture concentrations ranging from 9.3 to 46.6%. Internal bale temperatures were monitored daily during an outdoor storage period, reaching maxima (MAX) of 77.2°C and 1,997 heating degree days >30°C (HDD) for one specific combination of bale moisture, bale diameter, and harvest. Concentrations of all fiber components (NDF, acid detergent fiber, hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin) increased in response to spontaneous heating during storage. Changes in concentrations of NDF during storage (poststorage – prestorage; ΔNDF) were regressed on HDD using a nonlinear regression model (R2 = 0.848) that became asymptotic after ΔNDF increased by 8.6 percentage units. Although the specific regression model varied, changes (poststorage – prestorage) in concentrations of acid detergent fiber, cellulose, and lignin also increased in nonlinear relationships with HDD that exhibited relatively high coefficients of determination (R2 = 0.710 to 0.885). Fiber digestibility, as determined by NDFD, was largely unaffected by heating characteristics except within bales incurring the most extreme levels of HDD or MAX. In situ assessment of ruminal NDF disappearance kinetics indicated that disappearance rate (Kd) declined by about 40% within the range of heating incurred over these hay harvests. The change in Kd during storage (ΔKd) was related closely to both HDD and MAX by nonlinear models exhibiting high R2 statistics (0.907 and 0.883, respectively). However, there was no regression relationship between changes (poststorage – prestorage) in effective ruminal disappearance of NDF and spontaneous heating, regardless of which heating measure was used as the independent variable. The close regression relationship between ΔKd and measures of spontaneous heating indicates clearly that ruminal NDF disappearance was altered negatively by some direct or indirect aspect of spontaneous heating. However, it was equally apparent that these effects were offset by an expanding pool of dry matter recovered as potentially degradable NDF.