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The effect of cultivated mixed-species green fodder on intake, milk production and milk composition of housed dairy goats

  • R. Murney (a1), V. Burggraaf (a1), N. Mapp (a1), E. Ganche (a1) and W. King (a1)...


The majority of New Zealand dairy goat farmers utilise cultivated green-fed fodder dominated by perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.), but evidence from other ruminant species suggests that milk production may be improved when using a more diverse array of species within the green fodder. The aim of this experiment was to determine whether feeding lactating dairy goats a mixed-species green fodder (MF, consisting of perennial ryegrass, timothy (Phleum pratense L.), prairie grass (Bromus willdenowii Kunth), white clover, red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) and plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.) improves dietary intake, milk yield and composition compared with a standard ryegrass and white clover green fodder (SF). Thirty-six mid-lactation goats were housed indoors in pairs and split into two groups (A and B). The trial was split into three periods – firstly a uniformity period of 6 days, in which all goats were fed a combination of both green fodder types, followed by two treatment periods (P1 and P2) of 12 days, respectively. For P1, group A was fed MF and group B was fed SF, and then the group diets were switched for P2. Goats fed MF had 13% greater dry matter intake and 7% greater milk yield than goats fed SF. In addition, the milk protein and fat concentration of goats fed MF were 4% greater than for those fed SF, whereas there was no effect on milk lactose concentration. There was no treatment effect on the levels of protein, glucose, urea or non-esterified fatty acids in the blood of the goats. An effect of green fodder type on milk fat profile was demonstrated, with proportions of pentadecylic acid (C15:0), cis-vaccenic acid (C18:1 c11), linoleic acid (C18:2 n6) and α-linolenic acid (C18:3 n3) being increased in response to MF consumption. In contrast, iso-C15 and iso-C17 proportions were lesser. In summary, this study demonstrated that goats fed MF increased green fodder intake and milk production compared with goats fed SF. The green fodder type affected the fatty acid profile of goat’s milk, with MF increasing the levels of beneficial polyunsaturated omega fatty acids (linoleic and α-linolenic acids).


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Present address: Waikato Regional Council, Grey Street, Hamilton, New Zealand


Present address: DairyNZ Ltd, Ruakura Road, Hamilton, New Zealand



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The effect of cultivated mixed-species green fodder on intake, milk production and milk composition of housed dairy goats

  • R. Murney (a1), V. Burggraaf (a1), N. Mapp (a1), E. Ganche (a1) and W. King (a1)...


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