Effect of alfalfa silage storage structure and rumen-protected methionine on production in lactating dairy cows.J Dairy Sci. 2009 Mar; 92(3):1281-9.JD
The objective of this study was to determine whether production and nutrient utilization differed when lactating cows were fed diets based on 1 of 3 sources of alfalfa silage (AS) and whether performance was altered by feeding rumen-protected Met (RPM; fed as Mepron). Thirty-six lactating Holstein cows were blocked by parity and days in milk, then assigned to a randomized complete block design and fed a 3 x 2 arrangement of diets formulated from alfalfa ensiled in bag, bunker, or oxygen-limited silos, and supplemented with either 0 or 8 g of RPM/d. After feeding a covariate diet for 3 wk, treatment diets were fed for the remaining 12 wk of the trial. Experimental diets averaged [dry matter (DM) basis] 41% AS, 24% corn silage, 24% high-moisture corn, 3.7% soybean meal, 4% roasted soybeans, 2% ground shelled corn, 1.0% minerals and vitamins, 16.7% CP, and 31% NDF. Alfalfa from the oxygen-limited silo was lower in ash, higher in lactate, nonfiber carbohydrate, and in vitro NDF digestibility, had lower pH and ammonia content, and gave rise to greater DM intake and ADF digestibility than silage from the other 2 silos, indicating a more effective fermentation that, in turn, resulted in greater nutrient preservation. However, the more favorable composition, intake, and digestibility of alfalfa from the oxygen-limited silo were not reflected in improved milk production, which was not different among alfalfa sources. There was increased apparent N efficiency and trends for improved feed efficiency and protein yield with RPM supplementation across all 3 silages. The National Research Council (2001) model predicted that feeding RPM reduced Lys:Met ratio from 3.5 to 2.9, indicating that the diets were limiting in Met.