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J Dairy Sci. 2009 May;92(5):2317-25. doi: 10.3168/jds.2007-0958.

Feeding soyhulls to high-yielding dairy cows increased milk production, but not milking frequency, in an automatic milking system.

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Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), PO Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel.


To attract a cow into an automatic milking system (AMS), a certain amount of concentrate pellets is provided while the cow is being milked. If the milking frequency in an AMS is increased, the intake of concentrate pellets might increase accordingly. Replacing conventional starchy pellets with nonstarchy pellets increased milk yield, milk fat, and milk protein and decreased body weight. The hypothesis was that a nonroughage by-product rich in digestible neutral detergent fiber, such as soyhulls and gluten feed, could replace starchy grain in pellets fed in an AMS. Sixty cows were paired by age, milk yield, and days in milk, and were fed a basic mixture ad libitum [16.2 +/- 0.35 (mean +/- SE) kg of dry matter intake/d per cow] plus a pelleted additive (6 to 14 kg of dry matter/d per cow) that was consumed in the AMS and in a concentrate self-feeder, which could only be entered after passing through the AMS. The 2 feeding regimens differed only in the composition of the pelleted additives: the control group contained 52.9% starchy grain, whereas the experimental group contained 25% starchy grain, plus soyhulls and gluten feed as replacement for part of the grain. Wheat bran in the control ration, a source of fiber with low digestibility, was replaced with more digestible soyhulls and gluten. During the first 60 d in milk, a cow received 10 to 12 kg of concentrate pellets. After 60 DIM, concentrate feed was allocated by milk production: < or =25 kg/d of milk entitled a cow to 2 kg/d of concentrate feed; >25 kg/d of milk entitled a cow to receive 1 kg/d of additional concentrate feed per 5 kg/d of additional milk production, and >60 kg/d of milk entitled a cow to receive 9 kg of concentrate. The concentrate feed was split between the AMS and concentrate self-feeder. The 2 diets resulted in similar frequencies of voluntary milking (3.12 +/- 0.03 to 2.65 +/- 0.03 visits/d per cow vs. 3.16 +/- 0.00 to 2.60 +/- 0.01 visits/d per cow). Average milk yields were higher in the experimental group (42.7 +/- 0.76 to 39.09 +/- 0.33 kg/d per cow vs. 39.69 +/- 0.68 to 37.54 +/- 0.40 kg/d per cow) and percentages of milk protein (3.02 +/- 0.06 to 3.12 +/- 0.05% vs. 3.07 +/- 0.04 to 3.20 +/- 0.04%) and milk fat (3.42 +/- 0.17 to 3.44 +/- 0.08% vs. 3.38 +/- 0.13 to 3.55 +/- 0.06%) were similar in the 2 groups. The results suggest that the proposed pellets high in digestible neutral detergent fiber can be allocated via the AMS to selected high-yielding cows without a negative effect on appetite, milk yield, or milk composition while maintaining a high milking frequency.

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