Milk production, methane emissions, nitrogen, and energy balance of cows fed diets based on different forage systems.J Dairy Sci. 2020 Jul 01 [Online ahead of print]JD
Eight lactating Italian Friesian cows were housed in individual respiration chambers in a repeated Latin square design to determine their dry matter intake (DMI) and their milk and methane production, as well as to collect the total feces and urine to determine the N and energy balances. Four diets, based on the following forages (% of dry matter, DM), were tested: corn silage (CS, 49.3), alfalfa silage (AS, 26.8), wheat silage (WS, 20.0), and a typical hay-based Parmigiano Reggiano cheese production diet (PR, 25.3 of both alfalfa and Italian ryegrass hay). The greatest DMI was observed for cows fed PR (23.4 vs. 20.7 kg/d, the average of the other 3 diets). The DM digestibility was lower for PR (64.5 vs. 71.7%, the average of the other diets). The highest ash-free neutral detergent fiber digestibility values were obtained for CS (50.7%) and AS (47.4%). In the present study, no differences in milk production were observed between diets, although PR showed a higher milk yield trend. The highest milk urea N concentration (mg/dL) was found for the cows fed the WS diet (13.8), and the lowest was observed for the cows fed AS (9.24). The highest milk urea N concentration for the cows fed WS was also correlated with the highest urinary N excretion (g/d), which was found for the cows fed that same diet (189 vs. 147 on average for the other diets). The protein digestibility was higher for the cows fed the CS and WS diets (on average 68.5%) than for the cows fed AS and PR (on average 57.0%); dietary soybean inclusion was higher for CS and WS than for AS and PR. The rumen fermentation pattern was affected by the diet; the cows fed the PR diet showed a higher rumen pH and decreased propionate production than those fed CS, due to the lower nonfiber carbohydrate content and higher ash-free neutral detergent fiber content of the PR diet than the CS diet. Feeding cows with PR diet increased the acetate:propionate ratio in comparison with the CS diet (3.30 vs. 2.44 for PR and CS, respectively). Cows fed the PR diet produced a greater daily amount of methane and had a greater methane energy loss (% of digestible energy intake) than those fed the CS diet (413 vs. 378 g/d and 8.67 vs. 7.70%), but no differences were observed when methane was expressed as grams per kilogram of DMI or grams per kilogram of milk. The PR diet resulted in a smaller net energy for lactation content than the CS diet (1.36 vs. 1.70 Mcal/kg of DM for the PR and CS diets, respectively). Overall, our research suggests that a satisfactory milk production can be attained by including different high-quality forages in balanced diets without any negative effect on milk production or on the methane emissions per kilogram of milk.