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J Anim Sci. 1980 Oct;51(4):798-803.

Effect of delignification upon in vitro digestion of forage cellulose.


Orchardgrass forages harvested at two maturities (early and late) were ground through two screens (1 and 8 mm) and digested in vitro as intact forage and forage delignified by permanganate oxidation. Initial and residual cell wall, initial and residual cellulose and potentially digestible cellulose were greater in late intact forage than in the early. In the delignified forage, late cut forage had less residual cellulose than did the early, but initial and potentially digestible cellulose were similar. Particle size had less consistent and smaller effects upon cell wall and cellulose than did maturity. Cellulose of intact orchardgrass was 64% digested at 72 h vs 94% for cellulose of delignified orchardgrass. Digestion rate of cellulose was .0197 and .0220 logn units/hr for early and late cut intact forage and .0554 and .0719 logn units/hr for early and late cut delignified forage. Removal of the inhibitory effects of lignin increased the amount of digestible cellulose, increased the rate at which cellulose degraded and decreased the indigestible cellulose residue. Reduction in lignin could greatly improve forage intake and utilization at moderate levels of animal production.

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