1. Two experiments were carried out with lactating Friesian cows with a potential for high milk production. Within 3 d after calving they were fitted with a catheter to allow infusions to be given into the abomasum. During each experiment the milk yields and intake of the cows were such that they were calculated to be in negative energy balance.
2. In the first experiment three cows were infused daily with 10 l, the infusate being water, a suspension providing 300 g casein, or a solution providing 300 g glucose. The cows were offered a diet of barley straw, rolled barley and urea ad lib. during the first 60 d, after which they were fed to a calculated yield of 7 kg fat-corrected milk (FCM) less than their previous yield to ensure a negative energy balance. Infusion of casein increased yield by up to 3 kg FCM in comparison with glucose or water infusion. It also increased the concentration of crude protein in milk by approximately 13%. There was no consistent effect on milk fat concentration.
3. In the second experiment four cows were used in a trial of Latin-Square design. The basal ration was sufficient for a yield of 10 kg FCM/d. Four levels of casein and glucose infused into the abomasum daily were (g) 0, 750; 250, 500; 500, 250; 750, 0. The yields of FCM (kg/d) were 18.9, 22.7, 25.2 and 26.1, the concentration of protein (g/kg) was 25.2, 28.4, 29.6 and 31.5 and the concentration of milk fat (g/kg) was 48.2, 49.8, 51.0 and 54.8 for the four treatments respectively. In each instance the increases in values obtained with increasing level of casein infusion were significant. Infusion of casein was calculated to increase the extent of net energy deficit from 20.5 to 41.0 MJ/d. The possible protein limitations for cows in negative energy balance were discussed.
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