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J Dairy Sci. 2013 Jan;96(1):533-50. doi: 10.3168/jds.2012-5932. Epub 2012 Nov 17.

Effect of cereal grain type and corn grain harvesting and processing methods on intake, digestion, and milk production by dairy cows through a meta-analysis.

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


A meta-analysis was performed to determine the influence of cereal grain type and corn grain harvesting and processing methods, dietary starch, rumen-digestible starch, and forage NDF concentrations on intake, digestion, and lactation performance by dairy cows using a data set comprising 414 treatment means from 102 peer-reviewed journal reports from 2000 to 2011. Categories for corn processing were dry ground, cracked or rolled corn (DRY), high-moisture shelled or ear corn (ENS), and steam-flaked or -rolled corn (STM); categories for kernel mean particle size were 500 to 1,000, 1,000 to 1,500, 1,500 to 2,000, 3,000 to 3,500, and 3,500 to 4,000 µm for dry corn and <2,000 and ≥2,000 µm for ensiled corn. Dietary starch and forage NDF concentrations were used as continuous variables. Data were analyzed using PROC MIXED in SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC), with treatment as fixed and trial as random effects. Total-tract starch digestibility was reduced and milk fat content was greater for DRY compared with ENS or STM. Total-tract digestibility of dietary starch was reduced for both DRY and ENS as particle size increased. Increased dietary starch concentrations increased milk yield and protein content, but decreased ruminal and total-tract NDF digestibilities and milk fat content. Dry matter intake, total-tract starch digestibility, and milk protein concentration decreased as forage NDF in the diet increased. Total-tract starch digestibility was positively related to ruminal (percentage of starch intake) and postruminal (percentage of duodenal flow) starch digestibilities.

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