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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Jul;90(7):3355-66.

Dietary cation-anion difference and dietary protein effects on performance and acid-base status of dairy cows in early lactation.

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  • 1Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801, USA. whu@udel.edu


Our objective was to examine the effects of dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) with different concentrations of dietary crude protein (CP) on performance and acid-base status in early lactation cows. Six lactating Holstein cows averaging 44 d in milk were used in a 6 x 6 Latin square design with a 2 x 3 factorial arrangement of treatments: DCAD of -3, 22, or 47 milliequivalents (Na + K - Cl - S)/100 g of dry matter (DM), and 16 or 19% CP on a DM basis. Linear increases with DCAD occurred in DM intake, milk fat percentage, 4% fat-corrected milk production, milk true protein, milk lactose, and milk solids-not-fat. Milk production itself was unaffected by DCAD. Jugular venous blood pH, base excess and HCO3(-) concentration, and urine pH increased, but jugular venous blood Cl- concentration, urine titratable acidity, and net acid excretion decreased linearly with increasing DCAD. An elevated ratio of coccygeal venous plasma essential AA to nonessential AA with increasing DCAD indicated that N metabolism in the rumen was affected, probably resulting in more microbial protein flowing to the small intestine. Cows fed 16% CP had lower urea N in milk than cows fed 19% CP; the same was true for urea N in coccygeal venous plasma and urine. Dry matter intake, milk production, milk composition, and acid-base status did not differ between the 16 and 19% CP treatments. It was concluded that DCAD affected DM intake and performance of dairy cows in early lactation. Feeding 16% dietary CP to cows in early lactation, compared with 19% CP, maintained lactation performance while reducing urea N excretion in milk and urine.

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