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J Dairy Sci. 2008 Feb;91(2):698-703. doi: 10.3168/jds.2007-0543.

Peas can replace soybean meal and corn grain in dairy cow diets.

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Department of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844, USA.


The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effect of a partial substitution of soybean meal and corn grain with field peas in dairy cow diets on intake, milk yield and composition, nutrient digestibility, and urinary and fecal N losses. Twenty-four lactating Holstein cows were blocked into 2 groups based on parity, days in milk, and milk yield at the end of a 2-wk covariate period. Cows within group were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatments: control and pea diets. Approximately 45% of the corn grain and 78% of the soybean meal in the control diet were replaced with 15% (dry matter basis) field peas in the experimental diet. The peas used in the trial contained 25% crude protein and an estimated 1.98 Mcal of net energy for lactation/kg. The experiment continued for 70 d. Dry matter intake (25.9 and 26.3 kg/d; control and pea diets, respectively), milk yield (35.4 and 35.6 kg/d), 4% fat-corrected milk yield (33.0 and 34.6 kg/d), milk fat (3.54 and 3.76%) and protein (3.00 and 2.99%) content and yields, and milk N efficiency (26 and 24%) were not affected by diet. Concentration of milk urea nitrogen was also not affected by treatment (14.3 and 15.0 mg/dL, respectively). Intake of organic matter and N were not affected by diet, but intake of neutral detergent fiber was lower and that of starch greater with the control diet. Total tract apparent digestibility of starch was lower (92.1 vs. 88.3%, respectively) and that of dry matter and organic matter tended to be lower with the pea compared with the control diet. Urinary and fecal N losses were not different between the 2 diets. Panel evaluation of milk from the 2 diets indicated no differences in the organoleptic characteristics of milk. This experiment demonstrated that field peas could be safely fed to high-producing dairy cows at a 15% inclusion rate, replacing soybean meal and corn grain. At this inclusion rate, no effects on milk yield or milk composition were observed.

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