Whole-crop triticale silage for dairy cows grazing perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) or tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum) pastures in small-scale dairy systems during the dry season in the highlands of Mexico


The dry season in central Mexico is a difficult time for small-scale dairy systems to meet feed requirements for their herds as pasture growth is limited. Conserved forage options are needed to complement pastures. The objective was to assess on-farm the production of dairy cows complemented with triticale silage (X. Triticosecale Witt. (TSL)) at two levels of inclusion (5.0 and 7.5 kg DM/d), grazing pastures of two grass species during the dry season: perennial ryegrass (PRG; Lolium perenne) or tall fescue (TFC; Lolium arundinaceum) (TFC) with white clover (Trifolium repens), and 4.65 kg DM/d concentrate. Experimental design was a 2 × 2 factorial in repeated 4 × 4 Latin squares. Chemical composition of TSL was 96 g CP/kg DM, 667 g NDF/kg DM, 713 g in vitro enzymatic digestibility of OM (IVEDOM)/kg DM, and pH of 4.6. There were differences (P < 0.05) in net herbage accumulation (NHA) and sward height between pastures, with higher NHA in TFC than that in PRG, although the chemical composition of PRG was higher (P < 0.05) in PC, IVEDOM, and estimated ME. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in milk yield (12.3 ± 2.63 kg/cow/day), milk compositions (33.1 ± 0.45 g milkfat/kg, 41 33.3 ± 0.21 g milk protein/kg, 47.9 ± 0.36 g lactose/kg, and 10.47 ± 2.25 mg MUN/dL), body condition score (2.4 ± 0.22), or live weight (490 ± 72.8 kg). At a higher inclusion of TSL, there was lower intake of pasture. Inclusion of 5.0 kg DM/cow/day of triticale silage better complements grazing and sustains moderate milk yields when pasture growth and intake are limited.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.



Triticale silage


Perennial ryegrass pasture


Tall fescue pasture


Dry matter


Organic matter


Crude protein


Neutral detergent fibre


Acid detergent fibre


In vitro enzymatic digestibility of organic matter


Net herbage accumulation


Estimated metabolizable Energy


Analysis of variance


Standard error of the mean


Standard error of the mean for main plot (grass species)

SEMper :

Standard error of the mean for split plots (experimental periods)


Milk yield


Milk urea nitrogen


Live weight


Body condition score


  1. Agriculture and Food Research Council (AFRC). 1993. Animal and food research council. Energy and protein requirements of ruminants, (CAB International, Wallingford).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Aguilar-López, E.Y., Bórquez, J.L., Domínguez, I.A., Morales-Osorio, A., Gutiérrez-Martínez, M.G. and González-Ronquillo, M., 2013. Forage yield, chemical composition and in vitro gas production of triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) associated with common vetch (Vicia sativa) preserved as hay or silage, Journal of Agricultural Science (Canada), 5, 227–238.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Albarrán, B., García, A., Espinoza, A., Espinoza, E. and Arriaga, C.M., 2012. Maize silage in the dry season for grazing dairy cows in small-scale production systems in Mexicos highlands, Indian Journal of Animal Research, 46, 317–324

    Google Scholar 

  4. Albarrán-Portillo, B., García-Martínez, A., Ortiz-Rodea, A., Rojo-Rubio, R., Vazquez-Armijo, J.F. and Arriaga-Jordán, C.M., 2019. Socioeconomic and productive characteristics of dual purpose farms based on agrosilvopastoral systems in subtropical highlands of central Mexico, Agroforestry Systems, 93, 1939–1947. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-018-0299-2

  5. Ankom. Procedures (for NDF and ADF). Ankom Technology Method. 2005. http://www.ankom.com. Accessed 15 Sep 2016

  6. Arias, R.A., Mader, T.L. and Escobar, P.C., 2008. Climatic factors affecting cattle performance in dairy and beef farms, Archivos de Medicina Veterinaria, 40, 7-22-

  7. Bargo, F., 2003. Suplementación en Pastoreo: Conclusiones sobre las últimas experiencias en el mundo. http://www.agro.uba.ar/sites/default/files/catedras/bargo.pdf. Accessed 10 Nov 2017.

  8. Burbano-Muñoz, V.A., López-González, F., Estrada-Flores, J.G., Sainz-Sánchez, P.A., and Arriaga-Jordán, C.M., 2018. Oat silage for grazing dairy cows in small-scale dairy systems in the highlands of central Mexico, African Journal of Range and Forage Science, 35, 63–70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2989/10220119.2018.147349

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Castro, N., Rufach, H., Capellino, F., Domínguez, R. and Paccapelo, H., 2011. Evaluación del rendimiento de forraje y grano de triticales y tricepiros, Revista de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, 37, 281-289.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Celis-Álvarez, M.D., López-González, F., Martínez-García, C.G., Estrada-Flores, J.G. and Arriaga-Jordán, C.M., 2016. Oat and ryegrass silage for small-scale dairy systems in the highlands of central Mexico, Tropical Animal Health and Production, 48, 1129–1134

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Chaney, A.L. and Marbach, E.P., 1962. Modified reagents for determination of urea and ammonia. Clinical Chemistry, 8,130–132

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Conroy, C., 2005. Participatory livestock research, (ITDG Publishing, Bourton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire, UK).

  13. Cougnon, M., Baert, J., Van-Waes, C. and Reheul D., 2013. Performance and quality of tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum Schreb.) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and mixtures of both species grown with or without white clover (Trifolium repens L.) under cutting management, Grass and Forage Science, 69, 666–667

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Espinoza-Ortega, A., Espinosa-Ayala, E., Bastida-López, J., Castañeda-Martínez, T. and Arriaga-Jordán, C.M., 2007. Small-scale dairy farming in the highlands of central Mexico, technical, economic and social aspects and their impact on poverty, Experimental Agriculture, 43, 241–256

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Fadul-Pacheco, L., Wattiaux, M.A., Espinoza-Ortega, A., Sánchez-Vera, E., and Arriaga-Jordán, C.M., 2013. Evaluation of sustainability of small-scale dairy production systems in the highlands of Mexico during the rainy season, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 37, 882–901

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Fisher, L.J., 1972. Evaluation of triticale silage for lactating cows, Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 52, 373–376

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 2014. Agricultura Familiar en América Latina y el Caribe: Recomendaciones de Política. Chile. 2014 [in Spanish]

  18. Harper, T.M., Giallongo, F., Roth, G.W. and Hristov, A.N., 2017. Inclusion of wheat and triticale silage in the diet of lactating dairy cow, Journal of Dairy Science, 100, 6151–6163

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hernández-Mendo, O., and Leaver, J. D., 2006. Production and behavioural responses of high- and low-yielding dairy cows to different periods of access to grazing or to a maize silage and soyabean meal diet fed indoors. Grass and Forage Science, 61, 335–346.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Hoogendoorn, C.J., Newton, P.C.D., Devantier, B.P., Rolle, B.A., Theobald, P.W. and Lloyd-West, C.M., 2016. Grazing intensity and micro-topographical effects on some nitrogen and carbon pools and fluxes in sheep-grazed hill country in New Zealand, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 217, 22–32

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Indexmundi. Dairy, milk, fluid cows milk production by country. 2019. https://www.indexmundi.com/agriculture/?commodity=milk&graph=cows-milk-production. Accessed 17 Feb 2019.

  22. INEGI. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía. Encuesta nacional agropecuaria. 2014. http, //www.beta.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/proyectos/encagro/ena/2014/doc/minimonografia/prodbovena14.pdf. Accessed 26 Oct 2018.

  23. Kaplan, M., Kökten, K. and Akçura, M., 2014. Determination of silage characteristics and nutritional values of some triticale genotypes, Turkish Journal of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, 1,102–107.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Kaps, M., and Lamberson, W., 2004. Change-over designs. In: M. Kaps, and W. Lamberson (eds), Biostatistics for Animal Science, (Cromwell Press, Trowbridge).

    Google Scholar 

  25. Keles, G., Kurtoglu, V., Demirci, U., Ates, S., Canatan, T., Kan, M. and Gunes, A., 2014. Conservation characteristics of triticale-Hungarian vetch silage ensiled with homo-fermentative or hetero-fermentative lactic acid bacteria in jars, Animal Nutrition and Feed Technology, 14, 69–79.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Khorasani, G.R., Jedel, P. E., Helm J. H. and Kennelly, J. J., 1997. Influence of stage of maturity on yield components and chemical composition of cereal grain silages, Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 77: 259–267. https://doi.org/10.4141/A96-034.

  27. Martínez-Fernández, A., Argamentería-Gutiérrez, A. and De la Roza-Delgado, B., 2014. Manejo de forrajes para ensilar. (Servicio Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agroalimentario (SERIDA) (Asturias, Villaviciosa, Spain).

  28. Martínez-García, C.G., Rayas-Amor, A., Anaya-Ortega, J.P., Martínez-Castañeda, F.E., Espinoza-Ortega, A., Prospero-Bernal, F., and Arriaga-Jordan C.M., 2015. Performance of small-scale dairy farms in the highlands of central Mexico during the dry season under traditional feeding strategies, Tropical Animal Health and Production, 47, 331–337.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Mayne, C.S., Wright, I. and Fisher G.E.J., 2000. Grassland management under grazing and animal response. In: A., Hopkins, (ed), Grass: Its production and utilization, Chapter 10, (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science), 247–291.

  30. Mendoza-Elos, M., Cortez-Baheza, E., Rivera-Reyes, J.E., Rangel-Lucio, J.Á., Andrio-Enríquez, E. and Cervantes-Ortiz, F., 2011. Data and planting density on the production and quality seed the triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack), Agronomía Mesoamericana, 22: 309–316.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Payne, T.S., Amri, A., Humeid, B., and Rukhkyan, N., 2008. Regeneration guidelines for small-grained cereals. In: M.E., Dulloo, I., Thormann, M.A. Jorge, and J., Hanson (eds), Crop specific regeneration guidelines. CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resource Programme (SGRP), Rome, Italy.

  32. Pérez-Ramírez, E., Peyraud, J.L. and Delagarde, R., 2012. N-alkanes v. ytterbium/faecal index as two methods for estimating herbage intake of dairy cows fed on diets differing in the herbage: maize silage ratio and feeding level, Animal, 6, 232–244.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Plata-Reyes, D.A., Morales-Almaraz, E., Martínez-García, C.G., Flores-Calvete, G., López-González, F., Prospero-Bernal, F., Valdez-Ruiz, C.L., Zamora-Juárez, Y.G. and Arriaga-Jordán, C.M., 2018. Milk production and Fatty acid profile of dairy cows grazing four grass species pastures during the rainy season in small-scale dairy systems in the highlands of Mexico, Tropical Animal Health and Production, 50, 1797–1805. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-018-1621-8.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Powell, M., Wattiaux, A. and Broderick, G.A., 2011. Short communication: evaluation of milk urea nitrogen as a management tool to reduce ammonia emissions from dairy farms, Journal of Dairy Science, 94, 4690–4695.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Prospero-Bernal, F., Martínez-García, C.G., Olea-Pérez, R., López-González, F. and Arriaga-Jordán, C.M., 2017. Intensive grazing and maize silage to enhance the sustainability of small-scale dairy systems in the highlands of Mexico. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 49, 1537–1544

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Riveros, E. and Argamentería, A., 1987. Métodos enzimáticos de predicción de la digestibilidad in vivo de la materia orgánica de forrajes, Avances en Producción Animal, 12, 59–75.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Rojas, G.C., Catrileo, S.A., Manríquez, B.M. and Calabí, F.F., 2004. An evaluation of the cutting stage on triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack) for silage, Agricultura Técnica, 64, 34–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Sánchez-Gutiérrez, R.A. and Gutiérrez-Bañuelos, H., 2015. Forage characteristics of triticale varieties under drought, Revista Mexicana de. .Ciencias Agrícolas, 6, 645–650.

  39. Sheldrick, R.D., 2002. Sward establishment and renovation. In: A., Hopkins, (ed), Grass: Its production and utilization, Chapter 2, (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science), 13 – 30.

  40. Stroup, W.W., Hildebrand, P.E., and Francis, C.A., 1993. Farmer participation for more effective research in sustainable agriculture. Technologies for Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics. In: J. Regland, and L., Rattan, (eds), 153–186. Madison (WI): Soil Science Society of America, Inc., American Society of Agronomy, Inc. and Crop Science Society of America, Inc.

  41. Thornton, P.K., Vande-Steeg, J., Notenbaert, A. and Herrero, M., 2009. The impacts of climate change on livestock and livestock systems in developing countries: A review of what we know and what we need to know, Agricultural Systems, 101, 113–127.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Wattiaux, M.A., Nordheim, E.V. and Crump, P., 2005. Statistical Evaluation of Factors and Interactions Affecting Dairy Herd Improvement Milk Urea Nitrogen in Commercial Midwest Dairy Herds, Journal of Dairy Science, 88, 3020–3035.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Zadoks, J.C.T. and Konzak C., 1974. A decimal code for the growth stages of cereals, Weed Research, 14, 415–421.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


Authors express gratitude to the farmer who participated in this experiment, whose privacy and that of his family is respected by not disclosing their names. This work was undertaken thanks to funding by the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México) through grant UAEM 3676/2014/CIA, and the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología–CONACYT) for the postgraduate grant for Felipe de Jesús González-Alcántara. Our thanks also to Ms. Maria de Lourdes Maya-Salazar and Ms. Laura Edith Contreras-Martínez for their assistance in laboratory analyses.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Carlos Manuel Arriaga-Jordán.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare there are no conflicts of interest.

Statement on ethical standards and animal rights

The paper reports an on-farm experiment undertaken with a participating farmer who had knowledge of the objectives of the work and was duly informed at all times, and his privacy and that of his family respected by not disclosing their names. Experimental procedures with dairy cows followed accepted procedures by Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Dairy Science and Health in the Tropics

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

González-Alcántara, F., Estrada-Flores, J.G., Morales-Almaraz, E. et al. Whole-crop triticale silage for dairy cows grazing perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) or tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum) pastures in small-scale dairy systems during the dry season in the highlands of Mexico. Trop Anim Health Prod 52, 1903–1910 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-020-02206-9

Download citation


  • Triticale silage
  • Grazing
  • Small-scale dairy systems
  • Highlands
  • México