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J Dairy Sci. 2018 Jul;101(7):5984-5990. doi: 10.3168/jds.2017-14118. Epub 2018 Apr 19.

Productivity of lactating dairy cows fed diets with teff hay as the sole forage.

Author information

1
Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506.
2
Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506.
3
Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506. Electronic address: bbradfor@ksu.edu.

Abstract

Groundwater depletion is one of the most pressing issues facing the dairy industry in arid regions. One strategy to improve the industry's drought resilience involves feeding drought-tolerant forage crops in place of traditional forage crops such as alfalfa and corn silage. The objective of this study was to assess the productivity of lactating dairy cows fed diets with teff hay (Eragrostis tef) as the sole forage. Teff is a warm-season annual grass native to Ethiopia that is well adapted to drought conditions. Nine multiparous Holstein cows (185 ± 31 d in milk; mean ± standard deviation) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 diets in a 3 × 3 Latin square design with 18-d periods (14 d acclimation and 4 d sampling). Diets were either control, where dietary forage consisted of a combination of corn silage, alfalfa hay, and native grass hay, or 1 of 2 teff diets (teff-A and teff-B), where teff hay [13.97 ± 0.32% crude protein, dry matter (DM) basis] was the sole forage. All 3 diets were formulated for similar DM, crude protein, and nonfiber carbohydrate concentrations. Control and teff-A were matched for concentrations of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) from forage (18.2 ± 0.15% of DM), and teff-B included slightly less, providing 16.6% NDF from forage. Dry matter intake, milk and component production, body weight, body condition score, as well as DM and NDF digestibility were monitored and assessed using mixed model analysis, with significance declared at P < 0.05. Treatment had no effect on dry matter intake (28.1 ± 0.75 kg/d). Similarly, treatment had no effect on milk production (40.7 ± 1.8 kg/d). Concentrations of milk fat (3.90 ± 0.16%) and lactose (4.68 ± 0.07%) were also unaffected by treatment. Teff-A and teff-B increased milk protein concentration compared with the control (3.07 vs. 3.16 ± 0.09%). Treatment had no effect on energy-corrected milk yield (43.4 ± 1.3 kg/d), body weight, or body condition score change. Additionally, treatment had no effect on total-tract DM or NDF digestibility. Results from this study indicate that teff hay has potential to replace alfalfa and corn silage in the diets of lactating dairy cattle without loss of productivity.

KEYWORDS:

drought; forage; grass; lactation

PMID:
29680651
DOI:
10.3168/jds.2017-14118
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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