Effects of prepartum roughage neutral detergent fiber levels on periparturient dry matter intake, metabolism, and lactation in heat-stressed dairy cows.J Dairy Sci. 2010 Jun; 93(6):2589-97.JD
Heat stress of lactating cattle results in dramatic reductions in dry matter intake (DMI). As a result, energy input cannot satisfy energy needs and thus accelerates body fat mobilization. Decreasing the level of roughage neutral detergent fiber (NDF) in prepartum diets, and thereby increasing the amount of nonfiber carbohydrates, may provide an adequate supply of energy and glucose precursors to maintain and minimize the decrease in DMI while reducing mobilization of adipose tissue. The effects of 3-wk prepartum diets containing different amounts of roughage NDF on DMI, blood metabolites, and lactation performance of dairy cows were investigated under summer conditions in Thailand. Thirty cross-bred cows (87.5% Holstein x 12.5% Sahiwal) were dried off 60 d before their expected calving date and were assigned immediately to a nonlactating cow diet containing the net energy for lactation recommended by the National Research Council (2001) model. The treatment diets contained 17.4, 19.2, and 21.0% DM as roughage NDF from bana grass (Pennisetum purpureum x Pennisetum glaucum) silage. Levels of concentrate NDF were 39.8, 40.2, and 38.6% of dietary NDF, so the levels of dietary NDF were 28.9, 32.1, and 34.2% of DM. After parturition, all cows received a lactating cow diet containing 12.7% roughage NDF and 23% dietary NDF. During the entire experiment, the minimum and maximum temperature-humidity index averaged 77.7 and 86.8, respectively, indicating conditions appropriate for the induction of extreme heat stress. As parturition approached, DMI decreased steadily, resulting in a 12.9, 25, and 32.8% decrease in DMI from d -21 until calving for nonlactating cows fed prepartum diets containing 17.4, 19.2, and 21% roughage NDF, respectively. During the 3-wk prepartum period, intakes of DM and net energy for lactation and concentrations of plasma glucose and serum insulin were higher for cows fed diets containing less roughage NDF. In cows fed the 3-wk prepartum diets containing less roughage NDF, calf birth weights, milk yield, and 4% fat-corrected milk were higher, whereas periparturient concentrations of serum nonesterified fatty acids and plasma beta-hydroxybutyrate were lower. There was a carryover effect of the prepartum diet on serum nonesterified fatty acids and plasma beta-hydroxybutyrate during the first 7 d in milk, and therefore on milk production. These results suggest that feeding diets containing decreased amounts of roughage NDF during the 3-wk prepartum period may minimize the decrease in DMI and lipid mobilization as parturition approaches. This strategy may thus minimize the effect of hormonal factors and heat stress on periparturient cows.