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Ruminant Nutrition and Forage Utilization
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2009;22(4): 520-527.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2009.80477    Published online March 4, 2009.
Correlations among Shearing Force, Morphological Characteristic, Chemical Composition, and In situ Digestibility of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L) Stem
L. Liu, Z. B. Yang*, W. R. Yang, S. Z. Jiang, G. G. Zhang
Correspondence:  Z. B. Yang,
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L) is a high-quality forage for ruminants and the main stem is the dominant morphological component contributing to the forage nutritive value in mature alfalfa forage. Shearing force, a fracturing property of plant stem, is an important indictor of forage value. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of morphological characteristic on shearing force, the relationship between shearing force and chemical composition, and the relationship between shearing force and in situ digestibility of alfalfa stem. The results showed that linear density (weight per unit length of stem) was more important than chemical composition in affecting shearing force. There was a positive relationship between lignin content and shearing force (r = 0.78). Correlations were not found between shearing force and other chemical components such as neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF), cellulose and hemicelluloses. In situ digestibility (of dry matter and NDF) was related to shearing force. A negative correlation was found between shearing force and dry matter (DM) digestibility (r = -0.70), and there was also a negative correlation between shearing force and NDF digestibility (r = -0.87). When shearing force was standardized for stem diameter or stem linear density, the relationship between shearing force and digestibility was consistent regardless of stem diameter and stem linear density. Shearing force was significantly correlated with lignin content and in situ digestibility (of DM and NDF), and was a more direct indicator for estimating forage nutritive value related to animal performance, so it can be used to predict the forage value of alfalfa.
Keywords: Alfalfa Stems; Shearing Force; Stem Diameter; Stem Linear Density; Chemical Compositions; In situ Digestibility

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