Provide protein – Legume forages can provide up to 75 percent of the protein needed by lactating dairy cows; corn silage can provide up to 25 percent.
Provide fiber – Forages are often the only source of fiber in a cow’s diet. Fiber is essential to slow the passage of feed, thereby increasing the amount of nutrients that the cow can absorb from the feed.
Maximize intake – Forages stimulate cud chewing and rumination, which improve the cow’s appetite. Some non-forage sources of fiber actually reduce intake.