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The objective of current study was to assess the effect of replacing maize fodder with maize silage on productive performance of early-lactation buffaloes. Sixteen primiparous Nili Ravi buffaloes in early lactation (40±10 days in milk), with similar milk yield were randomly divided into 4 treatment groups (4 animals /group). Feed was offered ad libitum as a total mixed ration (TMR) with forage to concentrate ratio of 60 to 40% on dry matter basis. The dietary treatments included control (MFA; maize fodder 60% of TMR), MS20 (20% maize silage + 40% maize fodder), MS40 (40% maize silage + 20% maize fodder), and MSA (maize silage 60% of TMR). Treatments continued for 90 days. The results revealed that highest dry matter intake was recorded in MFA (17.99 ± 0.06 kg/d; mean ± SE) and lowest in MSA (16.22 ± 0.07). Similar pattern was observed for crude protein, neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber intakes. Dry matter digestibility was highest in MFA (64.49 ± 0.54 %) and lowest in MSA (60.17 ± 0.75). Daily milk yield was significantly (P<0.05) higher in MFA (8.97 ± 0.12) followed by MS20 (8.61 ± 0.09), MS40 (8.45 ± 0.10), and MSA (8.31 ± 0.07). The MFA and MS20 groups had lower fat (6.76 ± 0.10 and 6.76 ± 0.11 %) compared to MS40 and MSA (7.18 ± 0.14 and 7.17 ± 0.12 %). In conclusion, the buffaloes fed on TMR with lower silage levels performed better than buffaloes on higher silage levels.
Keywords: Buffaloes; Digestibility; Maize silage; Milk yield