In recent years, the cultivation of forage legumes such as lucerne, red and white clover has become more important to obtain roughage sources. This is particularly relevant not only for supplying ruminants with farm-produced protein, but also for improving the supply of feed to induce an adequate structural fibre effect. When forage legumes are included in ration planning, its energy value must be adequately predicted. Evaluation of the data described below had suggested that the metabolisable energy (ME) of forage legumes cannot be predicted with sufficient precision based on the equations recommended for predicting the ME of grass and grass products (GfE 2008), and prediction equations were therefore derived specifically for forage legumes.
This work was based on data sourced from digestibility experiments conducted in various institutions and regions in Germany and Switzerland with lucerne, sanfoin, red and white clover with wide variations in chemical composition (Losand et al. 2013). Equations for predicting the digestibility of organic matter (DOM) were additionally developed.