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J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2018 Mar 14;9:20. doi: 10.1186/s40104-018-0239-z. eCollection 2018.

Effects of the dietary nonfiber carbohydrate content on lactation performance, rumen fermentation, and nitrogen utilization in mid-lactation dairy cows receiving corn stover.

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Institute of Dairy Science, MoE Key Laboratory of Molecular Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310058 People's Republic of China.



Corn stover (CS) is an abundant source of feed for livestock in China. However, it is low in nutritional value that we have been seeking technologies to improve. Previous studies show that non-fiber carbohydrate (NFC) might limit the utilization of a CS diet by lactating dairy cows. Thus, this study was conducted to investigate the lactation performance and rumen fermentation characteristics in lactating cows consuming CS with two contents of NFC compared to an alfalfa hay-containing diet. Twelve Holstein cows were used in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square design with three dietary treatments: (1) low-NFC diet (NFC = 35.6%, L-NFC), (2) high-NFC diet (NFC = 40.1%, H-NFC), and (3) alfalfa hay diet (NFC = 38.9%, AH).


Intake of DM was lower for cows fed H-NFC compared to L-NFC and AH, while the milk yield was higher in AH than in H-NFC and L-NFC (P < 0.01). The feed efficiency (milk yield/DM intake, 1.15 vs. 1.08, P < 0.01) were greater for cows fed H-NFC than L-NFC. The contents of milk protein and lactose were not different among the groups (P > 0.11), but milk fat content was higher for cows fed H-NFC and L-NFC compared to AH (P < 0.01). The rumen ammonia nitrogen concentration and the concentrations of urea nitrogen in blood and milk were lower for cows fed H-NFC and AH compared to L-NFC (P < 0.05). The concentrations of rumen propionate and total volatile fatty acids were different among groups (P < 0.05) with higher concentration for cows fed AH compared to H-NFC and L-NFC, and acetate concentration tended to be different among groups (P = 0.06).


From the results obtained in this study, it was inferred that the increased NFC content in a diet containing corn stover can improve the feed efficiency and benefit the nitrogen conversion.


Corn stover; Dairy cows; Lactation performance; Nonfiber carbohydrate; Rumen fermentation

Conflict of interest statement

The procedures of this study were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of Zhejiang University (Hangzhou, China) and were in accordance with the university’s guidelines for animal research.Not applicable.The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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