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Increasing amounts of crushed wheat fed with pasture hay reduced dietary fiber digestibility in lactating dairy cows

Journal of Dairy Science
American Dairy Science Association
DOI: 10.3168/jds.2008-1504
  • Nutrition
  • Feeding
  • And Calves


Abstract Sixteen cows in mid-lactation (milk yield of 23.8±2.3 kg/d) were individually fed diets consisting of chopped perennial ryegrass hay, offered at 3kg of dry matter (DM)/100kg of body weight (BW), fed either alone or supplemented with amounts of crushed wheat ranging from 0.4 to 1.6kg of DM/100kg of BW (increasing at nominal intervals of 0.4kg of DM/100kg of BW; 5 nominal treatments in total). Three cows were allocated to each treatment except the mid-range wheat treatment, which had 4 cows. Results were analyzed by regression because the intake of the wheat by cows within treatments varied. The hay was used to reflect the characteristics of summer pastures in southeastern Australia. Feed intake and fecal output were measured to determine digestion coefficients, feeds were incubated in nylon bags in the rumen, and rumen variables were monitored. Estimates of metabolizable energy (ME) of the hay from in vivo or in vitro digestibility were also compared. The digestibility of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) was depressed linearly as the amount of crushed wheat consumed increased to 36% of DM intake. The extent to which negative associative effects on NDF digestion were associated with the hay could not be determined, as it was not possible to distinguish between the NDF from hay and that from wheat. However, acid detergent fiber (ADF) digestion also declined, suggesting that most of the response lay with the hay because ADF was negligible in the wheat. Most data indicated that effects of proportion of wheat in the diet on the utilization of consumed nutrients were small. Despite substitution of wheat for hay reducing the forage intake of cows, there was a positive linear effect on marginal milk responses (1.3kg of energy-corrected milk/kg of DM wheat). Mean rumen fluid pH declined as the proportion of wheat in the diet increased. The lowest pH for any individual cow during a 24-h period was 5.4, and the amount of time that rumen fluid pH was <6.0 ranged from 0 to 14h depending on the amount of wheat consumed. It was concluded that these perturbations of the rumen environment were probably sufficient to result in negative associative effects. In addition, estimates of the ME content of the hay were higher when calculated from in vitro compared with in vivo digestibility, which has implications when estimating the amount of feed required for production.

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