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Effects of the chop lengths of alfalfa silage and oat silage on feed intake, milk production, feeding behavior, and rumen fermentation of dairy cows



Effects of the chop lengths of alfalfa silage and oat silage on feed intake, milk production, feeding behavior, and rumen fermentation of dairy cows



Journal of Dairy Science 91(5): 1942-1958



Effects of chop length (shorter: 6 mm, or longer: 19 mm) of alfalfa silage and oat silage were determined in 16 mid-lactation Holstein cows, 4 of which were rumen cannulated, using a replicated 4 x 4 Latin square design with a 2 x 2 arrangement of treatments. Experimental periods were 21 d long and consisted of 14 d of adaptation and 7 d of sampling. Cows received a total mixed ration containing [dry matter (DM) basis] 42.0% barley grain-based energy supplement, 10% protein supplement, and 24% of DM longer chop or shorter chop alfalfa silage and 24% of DM longer chop or shorter chop oat silage. Rumen pH was measured continuously, and rumen liquid flow rates were determined in rumen-cannulated cows. Feeding behavior was determined by videotaping, and meal patterns were determined by continuously weighing the feed in the bunk of 8 cows. Reducing the chop length of alfalfa silage and oat silage reduced the average geometric particle length from 14.2 to 10.9 mm and from 13.4 to 10.4 mm, respectively. Reducing the alfalfa chop length did not affect feed intake, whereas reducing the oat silage chop length increased DM intake from to 19.4 to 21.2 kg/d. Reducing the chop lengths of alfalfa silage and oat silage chop length did not affect milk production, rumen fermentation, feeding behavior, meal patterns, and blood metabolites. Daily milk yield, milk fat percentage, and milk protein percentage averaged 36.1 kg/d, 3.00%, and 3.16%, respectively, across diets. The low milk fat percentages suggest that the diets induced subacute ruminal acidosis. This was also substantiated by the rumen pH, which was below 5.6 for more than 122 min/d for all diets. The onset of subacute ruminal acidosis despite apparently adequate dietary neutral detergent fiber content and particle size distribution as well as the long duration of chewing might be attributed to sorting against long feed particles.

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Accession: 022517312

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 18420626

DOI: 10.3168/jds.2007-0358


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