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J Dairy Sci. 2014 Feb;97(2):917-29. doi: 10.3168/jds.2013-6756. Epub 2013 Dec 15.

Effect of monensin in lactating dairy cow diets at 2 starch concentrations.

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School of Agriculture, University of Wisconsin, Platteville 53818. Electronic address:
Elanco Animal Health, Greenfield, IN 46140.
Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


The objective of this study was to determine the effects of monensin (M) supplementation on lactation performance of dairy cows fed diets of either reduced (RS) or normal (NS) starch concentrations as total mixed rations. One hundred twenty-eight Holstein and Holstein × Jersey cows (90 ± 33 d in milk) were stratified by breed and parity and randomly assigned to 16 pens of 8 cows each in a randomized controlled trial. Pens were then randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. A 4-wk covariate adjustment period preceded the treatment period, with all pens receiving NS supplemented with 18 g of monensin/t of dry matter (DM). Following the 4-wk covariate adjustment period, cows were fed their assigned treatment diets of NS with M (18 g of monensin/t), NS with 0 g of monensin/t (C), RS with M, or RS with C for 12 wk. Actual starch concentrations for the RS and NS diets were 20.4 and 26.9% (DM basis), respectively. Mean dry matter intake (DMI; 27.0 kg/d) was unaffected by the treatments. Feeding M compared with C and NS compared with RS increased milk yield by 1.3 and 1.5 kg/d per cow, respectively. Milk protein percentage and yield and lactose yield were increased and milk urea nitrogen was decreased for NS compared with RS. Feeding M increased actual and component-corrected milk feed efficiencies (component-corrected milk yield/DMI) and lactose yield and tended to increase milk urea nitrogen compared with C. Milk protein percentage was decreased for M compared with C, but milk fat percentage and yield, protein yield, and lactose percentage were unaffected by M. We observed a tendency for a starch × monensin interaction for milk feed efficiency (actual milk yield/DMI); M tended to increase efficiency more for NS than for RS. Starch and monensin had minimal effects on milk fatty acid composition and yields. Feeding RS decreased milk and protein yields, but component-corrected milk yields and feed efficiencies were similar for RS and NS. Monensin increased feed efficiency and lactation performance for both dietary starch concentrations.


dairy cow; feed efficiency; monensin; starch

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