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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Weanling Meadow Vole and Dairy Cow Responses to Alfalfa Hay1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 67 No. 4, p. 569-571
    Received: Sept 16, 1974

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  1. J. S. Shenk,
  2. R. F. Barnes,
  3. J. D. Donker and
  4. G. C. Marten2



Weanling meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) have been suggested as a bioassay of the feeding value of forage. To test the relationship between vole and ruminant intake and performance, six alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) forages were fed to dairy cows and weanling voles. The six forages represented early and late-harvested hay in 3 consecutive years. The dairy cow rations consisted entirely of forage, vole diets contained 70% forage. Intake and production responses for both animal species were higher with feedings of early-cut hay than of late-cut hay. Multiple regression analyses showed that the neutral detergent fiber and protein concentration of the forages were important factors in the observed responses of each animal species. A linear equation was calculated that accounted for 91% of the variation in milk production from vole weight gain. The study supports the theory that weanling vole may provide useful information about the feeding value of forage for the ruminant animal.

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