Effects of dietary forage level and monensin on lactation performance, digestibility and fecal excretion of nutrients, and efficiency of feed nitrogen utilization of Holstein dairy cows.J Dairy Sci. 2009 Jul; 92(7):3211-21.JD
Two experiments (Exp. 1 and 2) were conducted using a 4 x 4 Latin square design with 2 replications (n = 8) to evaluate effects of feeding Holstein dairy cows a total mixed ration containing 50 or 60% of ration dry matter (DM) from forages with or without supplementation of monensin. In Exp. 1, alfalfa silage (AS) was used as the major forage (55% forage DM), and corn silage (CS; 45% forage DM) was used to make up the rest of the forage portion of diets (55AS:45CS). In Exp. 2, CS was used as the major forage (70% forage DM) and alfalfa hay (AH; 30% forage DM) was used to make up the rest of the forage portion of diets (70CS:30AH). Experimental diets were arranged in a 2 x 2 factorial with 50 or 60% ration DM from forages and monensin supplemented at 0 or 300 mg/cow daily. In Exp. 1 (55AS:45CS), feeding 60% forage diets decreased DM intake (DMI; 27.3 vs. 29.6 kg/d) but maintained the same levels of milk (45.8 vs. 47.0 kg/d) compared with 50% forage diets. The efficiency of converting feed to milk or 3.5% fat-corrected milk was greater for cows fed 60% compared with 50% forage diets (1.7 vs. 1.6 kg milk or 3.5% fat-corrected milk/kg of DMI, respectively). Increasing dietary forage level from 50 to 60% of ration DM increased milk fat percentage (3.4 to 3.5%); however, adding monensin to the 60% forage diet inhibited the increase in milk fat percentage. Feeding 60% forage diets decreased feed cost, but this decrease ($0.5/head per day) in feed cost did not affect income over feed cost. Feeding 60% forage diets decreased fecal excretion of DM (10.6 to 9.6 kg/d) and nitrogen (N; 354 to 324 g/d) and improved apparent digestibility of neutral detergent fiber from 43 to 49% and apparent efficiency of feed N utilization from 32.3 to 35.9% compared with 50% forage diets. In Exp. 2 (70CS:30AH), feeding 60% forage diets decreased DMI from 29.6 to 28.2 kg but maintained the same level of milk (41.1 vs. 40.8 kg/d) and therefore increased the efficiency of converting feed to milk (1.46 vs. 1.38 kg milk/kg DMI) compared with 50% forage diets. Daily feed cost for feeding 60% forage diets was $0.3/head lower than for the 50% forage diets. Fecal excretion of DM (10.3 vs. 11.5 kg/d) was lower and fecal excretion of N (299 vs. 328 g/d) tended to be lower for 60% compared with 50% forage diets. Results from these 2 experiments suggest that a 60% forage diet consisting of either AS or CS as the major forage can be fed to high producing Holstein dairy cows without affecting milk production while improving or maintaining the efficiency of converting feed to milk and the apparent efficiency of utilization of feed N. Cows receiving a 60% forage diet had a similar or improved digestibility of nutrients with a similar or reduced fecal excretion of nutrients. Effects of monensin under the conditions of the current experiments were minimal.