Hymøller, Lone3; Hellwing, Anne Louise Frydendahl4; Lund, Peter4; Weisbjerg, Martin Riis4
1 Department of Animal Science - Molecular nutrition and reproduction, Department of Animal Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University2 Department of Animal Science - Animal nutrition and physiology, Department of Animal Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University3 Department of Animal Science - Molecular nutrition and reproduction, Department of Animal Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University4 Department of Animal Science - Animal nutrition and physiology, Department of Animal Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
Starch is an important energy-providing nutrient for dairy cows that is most commonly provided from cereal grains. However, ruminal fermentation of large amounts of easily degradable starch leads to excessive production and accumulation of volatile fatty acids (VFA). VFA not only play a vital role in the energy metabolism of dairy cows but are also the main cause of ruminal acidosis and depressed feed intake. The aim of the present study was to compare maize cob silage (MCS) as an energy supplement in rations for dairy cows with highly rumen-digestible rolled barley and with sodium hydroxide wheat (SHW), which has a higher proportion of by-pass starch than barley. Two studies were carried out: (1) a production study on 45 Danish Holstein cows and (2) an intensive study to determine digestibilities, rumen fermentation patterns and methane emission using three rumen-cannulated Danish Holstein cows. Both studies were organised as a 3×3 Latin square with three experimental periods and three different mixed rations. The rations consisted of grass-clover silage and maize silage (~60% of dry matter (DM)), rapeseed cake, soybean meal, sugar beet pulp and one of three different cereals as a major energy supplement: MCS, SHW or rolled barley (~25% of DM). When MCS replaced barley or SHW as an energy supplement in the mixed rations, it resulted in a lower dry matter intake; however, the apparent total tract digestibilities of DM, organic matter, NDF, starch and protein were not different between treatments. The energy-corrected milk yield was unaffected by treatment. The fat content of the milk on the MCS ration was not different from the SHW ration, whereas it was higher on the barley ration. The protein content of the milk decreased when MCS was used in the ration compared with barley and SHW. From ruminal VFA patterns and pH measures, it appeared that MCS possessed roughage qualities with respect to rumen environment, while at the same time being sufficiently energy rich to replace barley and SHW as a major energy supplement for milk production. The environmental impact, expressed as methane emissions, was not different when comparing MCS, SHW and barley.