Fresh forages are an important natural source of vitamins and fatty acids in ruminant diets, and their concentrations in forage species are important for the quality of animal-derived foods such as dairy and meat products. The aims of this study were to obtain novel information on vitamins and fatty acids (FA) in a variety of forage legumes and non-legume forb species compared to a grass-clover mixture and to explore implications for animal-derived products. Seven dicotyledons [four forbs (salad burnet ( Sanguisorba minor ), caraway ( Carum carvi ), chicory ( Cichorium intybus ), and ribwort plantain ( Plantago lanceolata )) and three legume species (yellow sweet clover ( Melilotus officinalis ), lucerne ( Medicago sativa ), and birdsfoot trefoil ( Lotus corniculatus ))] and a perennial ryegrass-white clover mixture were investigated in a cutting trial with four harvests (May-October) during 2009 and 2010. The experimental design was a randomized complete block, and analyses of variance were performed. In addition, three other forbs were grown: borage ( Borago officinalis ), viper's bugloss ( Echium vulgare ), and chervil ( Anthriscus cerefolium ). Lucerne and yellow sweet clover had the lowest α-tocopherol concentrations (21-23 mg kg(-1) DM) and salad burnet and ribwort plantain the highest (77-85 mg kg(-1) DM); β-carotene concentrations were lowest in lucerne, salad burnet, and yellow sweet clover (26-33 mg kg(-1) DM) and highest in caraway, birdsfoot trefoil, and ribwort plantain (56-61 mg kg(-1) DM). Total FA concentrations were lowest in lucerne, ribwort plantain, chicory, and yellow sweet clover (15.9-19.3 g kg(-1) DM) and highest in caraway and birdsfoot trefoil (24.5-27.0 g kg(-1) DM). Birdsfoot trefoil had the highest (53.6 g 100 g(-1) FA) and caraway and lucerne the lowest (33.7-35.7 g 100 g(-1) FA) proportions of n-3 FA. This study demonstrated higher vitamin concentrations in some forbs compared with major forages such as lucerne and grass-clover, more total FA in salad burnet, caraway, and birdsfoot trefoil than in lucerne, and higher n-3 FA concentrations in all forbs than in lucerne. Opportunities are discussed to develop novel biodiverse pastures for particular product quality characteristics.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2013, Vol 61, Issue 49, p. 11913-11920