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Testing of Barley Varieties for Greenfeed and Silage - Regional Silage Variety Trial (RSVT) 2015

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Trial Location: Fairview Research Farm, NW-5-82-3-W6 on RR#35, MD of Fairview

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2015 Annual Report

To identify barley varieties that have superior forage production in the Peace, PCBFA took part in the Regional Variety Testing program (Regional Silage Variety Trials (RSVT) in 2015. The program includes testing of new barley varieties as they become available for adaption, forage yield and quality. In addition to the findings presented here from our trial, the results from the RSVTs across the different trial sites in the province will also be reported in the Alberta Seed Guide (


The study site was at the Fairview Research Farm (NW5-82-3W6) on RR #35, MD of Fairview. The site had been in alfalfa hay for several years. The site was sprayed with Roundup the fall before and worked in the spring before seeding . Soil tests at 0-6” showed an organic matter of 3.0 % and a pH of 6.9.

Eight (8) forage type barley varieties were arranged in a randomized complete block design in 4 replications in small plots. Seeding was done on May 25 with a 6-row plot drill at 9 inch row spacing. Fertility according to soil test recommendations for balanced crop nutrition was 200 lb N + 96 lb P + 62 lb K + 75 lb S and applied at seeding. Roundup was used for burn off. In-crop spraying was done with 0.44 L/ha Prestige A + 1.98 L/ha Prestige B. The 8 barley varieties tested include:

  1. CDC Austenson– rough awn variety

  2. CDC Maverick– a new smooth-awned forage barley

  3. Canmore– rough awned general purpose (feed & forage) barley

  4. CDC Meredith – malting barley

  5. Champion– rough awned feed barley

  6. TR12733– general purpose (feed & forage) barley

  7. TR13740– general purpose (feed & forage) barley

  8. Amisk – rough awned, semi-dwarf, general purpose (feed & forage) barley

Forage harvest was done on August 6, 2015 at the soft-dough stage. Four rows per plot were harvested by hand and weighed fresh. Sub-samples (about 500 grams per plot) were dried for some days and later re-weighed for dry matter (DM) content and DM yield estimation. Forage samples were analyzed for quality using standard procedures for wet chemistry by Central Testing Laboratory Ltd., Winnipeg.

Fairview was generally dry in 2015, and grasshopper infestation was very high. Moisture received from seeding to harvest was 4.32”, with 1.19 inches received from August 3 to 5, just a few days before forage harvest.


Forage DM yield

TR13740 barley had the highest forage DM yield (7307 lbs/acre), followed by TR12733 (6931 lbs/acre), and then CDC Austenson (6862 lbs/acre) (Figure 1). Amisk had lower DM yield than other varieties. Overall, only TR13740 barley was significantly different than Champion and Amisk barley varieties. Other varieties were statistically similar in DM.

Forage Quality (Table 1)

The forage protein was generally >10% for all barley varieties. Amisk had the highest protein (13.1% CP).

The forage Ca, P, Mg, K and Na values for all barley varieties (Table 1) were adequate for a dry gestating beef cow. None of the varieties had adequate amount of Ca and P for a lactating beef cow.

The Mg and K requirements of a lactating beef cow were however far exceeded by all barley varieties tested here. The 0.10% Na required by a nursing beef cow (0.10% Na) was met by 5 of the 8 varieties tested.

Energy (either harvested by the animal or provided via supplementation) is used by animals to sustain life of the individual (maintenance) and for product formation (growth, gestation, and lactation). The forage energy content (%TDN) was generally high for all barley varieties tested here (Table 1). All barley varieties tested exceeded the recommended TDN values for mature beef cattle (55-65% TDN) as well as being adequate for growing and finishing calves (65-70% TDN).

CDC Meredith consistently had higher values for other energy units of measure (ME, NEG, NEL, NEM and DE) compared to other barley varieties. The energy available for metabolism by animals is referred to as metabo-lizable energy (ME). Looking at the ME values in the present study, all barley varieties tested here were well within the suggested daily ME requirements of 2.23 to 2.54 mcal/kg for mature beef cattle. A mature beef cow requires 0.97-1.10 Mcal/kg of NEM at the dry gestation stage and 1.19-1.28 Mcal/kg NEM during lactation. All the 8 barley varieties tested met the NEM requirement of a mature beef cow. For growing and finishing calves, which require 0.53-1.37 Mcal/kg of NEG, all barley varieties were well within this range.

Conclusion – TR13740 had the most forage dry matter and forage quality that have been able to meet the protein, macro minerals and energy needs of a dry gestating cow. Generally, the energy (TDN) for barley varieties was very high and good enough for both calves and mature beef cow.

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