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J Dairy Sci. 2002 Aug;85(8):1936-46.

Effects of forage particle size and grain fermentability in midlactation cows. I. Milk production and diet digestibility.

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1
Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706, USA.

Abstract

Our study investigated the effects of, and interactions between, level of dietary ruminally fermentable carbohydrate (RFC) and forage particle size on milk production, nutrient digestibility, and microbial protein yield for dairy cows fed one level of dietary NDF. Eight cows (61 days in milk) were assigned to four treatments in a double 4 x 4 Latin square. Treatments were arranged in a 2 x 2 factorial design; finely chopped alfalfa silage (FS) and coarse alfalfa silage (CS) were combined with concentrates based on either dry cracked shelled corn (DC; low RFC) or ground high-moisture corn (HMC; high RFC). Diets were fed ad libitum as a total mixed rations with a concentrate to forage ratio of 61:39. Diets based on DC had a predicted NEL content of 1.73 Mcallkg dry matter (DM), while HMC diets contained 1.80 Mcal/kg DM. Diets averaged 18.7% CP, 24.0% NDF, 18.3% ADF, and 27.4% starch on a DM basis. Mean particle size of the four diets was 6.3, 2.8, 6.0, and 3.0 mm for DCCS, DCFS, HMCCS, and HMCFS, respectively. Increasing level of RFC decreased dry matter intake (DMI) from 25.0 to 23.8 kg/ d and organic matter intake from 22.3 to 21.1 kg/d, but intake was not affected by particle size. Milk production averaged 44.0 and 26.8 kg/d solids corrected milk (SCM) and was not affected by diet, but increasing level of RFC tended to increase milk yield. Efficiency of milk production, expressed as SCM/DMI, increased from 1.06 to 1.14 when level of RFC was increased. Milk composition or yield of milk components was not affected by diet, and averaged 3.53% fat, 3.11% protein, 1.55 kg/d fat, and 1.36 kg/d protein. Total tract digestibility of DM and OM increased from 71.4 to 73.0% and 72.4 to 76.1% for DM and OM, respectively, when level of RFC was increased. Total tract digestibility of fiber was unaffected by diet, but total tract starch digestibility increased from 93.1 to 97.4% when HMC replaced DC. Total urinary excretion of the purine derivatives uric acid and allantoin increased from 415 to 472 mmol/d when level of RFC was increased, and calculated microbial N supply increased from 315 to 365 g/d. When expressed as per kilogram of digestible OMI, increasing level of RFC tended to increase microbial N supply (20.4 vs. 22.2 g/kg). Cow productivity was not affected by forage particle size and ruminally fermentable carbohydrates in this study.

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