The digestibility of the cell wall, which consist of cellulose and hemicellulose, depends, among other factors, on weather and management, but we have also seen a difference between grass varieties, when they are compared under same growing conditions.
We test all varieties for feeding quality, and those showing high digestibility of cell walls are marked with our cell wall logo.
How is it possible to improve digestibility?
In order to achieve high feed intake, digestibility of organic matter should be app. 78 and 81% or higher, and if we want understand what affects digestibility of grass, we need to have a look at the grass cell to investigate what constituents cell are constructed of.
A plant cell is divided into cell content and cell wall.
The content of the cell consists mainly of protein, crude fat, starch and sugars, all of which have a constant and highly digestible. Digestibility of these constituents is nearly 100% and for that reason very difficult to improve.
It is somewhat different if we look at the cell wall. The cell wall is mainly constructed of lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose. The cell wall consists also of β-glucanes and pectines, but these are also highly digestible and for that reason also very difficult to improve. Lignin is indigestible and impossible to improve.
This leaves us with a limited possibility of improving digestibility, namely to improve digestibility of cellulose and hemicellulose, as these components varies in digestibility.
For that reason, cellulose and hemicellulose determine the digestibility of grasses.
Hemicellulose and cellulose together with lignin is what we often refer to as neutral detergent fiber and the fraction of neutral detergent fiber, which can be digested is dNDF or what we call FIBER ENERGY.
Fiber Energy can be determined by lab analysis, hence we need to screen all our grasses and the grasses with highest digestibility are nominated with a FIBER ENERGY logo.