Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Animal Science (MS)

Degree Level



Animal Science


Kenneth P. Coffey

Committee Member

Dirk Philipp

Second Committee Member

Wayne K. Coblentz


Biological sciences, Health and environmental sciences, Alfalfa, Digestibility, Silage


Baling silage with oxygen can result in dry matter deterioration and reduce silage intake by animals. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of two different wrapping sources and time intervals between baling and wrapping on intake and digestibility of alfalfa silage. The second objective was to assess the correlation of alfalfa silage fermentation parameters with intake and digestibility parameters in gestating sheep. Alfalfa silage was baled in large round bales then wrapped with plastic either with (KURA) or without (SUN) an oxygen-limiting barrier either the day of baling or 1, 2 or 3 d after baling. Beginning in January, silages were chopped and packed into plastic-lined trash containers, then offered randomly for ad libitum consumption to 16 gestating ewes (n = 16; 63.5 ± 1.71 kg BW) to provide 2 observations per treatment for 3 experimental periods. Each period consisted of a 10-d dietary adaptation period followed by 7 d of total fecal and urine collection. Ewes were housed in individual 1 × 1.5-m pens with plastic coated grate flooring and were re-randomized to different treatments each period such that ewes were not offered the same treatment in any period. In general, intake and digestibility measurements were not affected (P ≥ 0.15) by wrap type. Maximum digestible DM and DOMI were from silage wrapped the day following baling (P < 0.05). Correlations between fermentation measurements with intake and digestibility were not strong (r2 < 0.42) however lactic concentrations expressed a greater correlation value (r2 = 0.14) with both DDMI and DOMI compared to other fermentation characteristics. Therefore, wrapping silage beyond 1 day after baling can have detrimental effects on energy status in gestating ewes and desirable fermentation should also result in greater intake of digestible dry and organic matter, and lactic acid concentration was not the best predictor of DDMI and DOMI in sheep.