Chewing activity, metabolic profile and performance of high-‎producing dairy cows fed conventional forages, wheat straw or rice straw

Author: H. Omidi-Mirzaee, E. Ghasemi, G. R. Ghorbani & M. Khorvash
Year: 2017
Issue: 3
Volume: 47
Page: 342 - 351

In this study, production and physiological responses of high-producing dairy cows fed wheat (WS) or rice (RS) straw, as a partial forage replacement for the conventional forages lucerne hay (LH) and maize silage (MS‎), were investigated. The straws were treated under dry alkaline conditions, adjusted pH (pH ~12), and then ensiled. Twelve lactating Holstein cows were used in a replicated (n = 4) 3 × 3 Latin square design experiment with three periods of 21 days. Cows were offered one of three diets that differed in their forage sources: 1) 20% LH and 20% MS (control); 2) 12.8% LH, 12.8% MS; and 12.8% WS; and 3) 12.8% LH, 12.8% MS and 12.8% RS. Diet 1 had 60% concentrate, and diets 2 and 3 had 61.6% concentrate. Diets were iso-nitrogenous and iso-energetic. Supplemental buffer (NaHCO3) was omitted from the straw diets. However, straw diets contained greater sodium and dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) compared with the control diet. Cows fed the WS had significantly greater apparent dry matter (DM) (69.7 versus 63.9%) and neutral detergent fibre (NDF) (55.4 versus 42.4%) digestibility than cows fed the control. Additionally, feeding either WS or RS significantly increased dry matter intake (DMI) (27.5 versus 25.6 kg/d‎) and milk production (48.4 versus 45.6 kg/d) compared with control, but milk components were unaffected by treatments.  Plasma minerals and metabolites concentrations and ruminal, urinary and faecal pH were similar across treatments. Feeding WS and RS resulted in lower time spent chewing per kg DMI compared with the control (‎P = 0.01‎). Although there were no significant differences in performance between WS and RS, nutrient digestibility (DM, OM, and CP) was significantly higher while total chewing was lower for the WS diet than the RS diet. Partial inclusion of dry treated straw in lactating diets (12.8% DM basis) led to increases in sodium and DCAD levels and improved digestibility, DMI and milk yield without negative effects.

Keywords: Cation and anion difference, cereal straw dietary sodium, lactating cows
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