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Modelling feeding strategies to improve milk production, rumen function and discomfort of the early lactation dairy cow supplemented with fodder beet

  • A. E. Fleming (a1), D. Dalley (a2), R. H. Bryant (a1), G. R. Edwards (a1) and P. Gregorini (a1)...

Abstract

Feeding fodder beet (FB) to dairy cows in early lactation has recently been adopted by New Zealand dairy producers despite limited definition of feeding and grazing management practices that may prevent acute and sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA). This modelling study aimed to characterize changes of rumen pH, milk production and total discomfort from FB and define practical feeding strategies of a mixed herbage and FB diet. The deterministic, dynamic and mechanistic model MINDY was used to compare a factorial arrangement of FB allowance (FBA), herbage allowance (HA) and time of allocation. The FBA were 0, 2, 4 or 7 kg dry matter (DM)/cow/day (0FB, 2FB, 4FB and 7FB, respectively) and HA were 18, 24 or 48 kg DM/cow/day above ground. All combinations were offered either in the morning or afternoon or split across two equal meals. Milk production from 2FB diets was similar to 0FB but declined by 4 and 16% when FB increased to 4 and 7 kg DM, respectively. MINDY predicted that 7FB would result in SARA and that rumen conditions were sub-optimal even at moderate FBA (pH < 5.6 for 160 and 90 min/day, 7FB and 4FB respectively). Pareto front analysis identified the best compromise between high milk production and low total discomfort was achieved by splitting the 2FB diet into two equal meals fed each day with 48 kg DM herbage. However, due to low milk response and high risk of acidosis, it is concluded that FB is a poor supplement for lactating dairy cows.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: A. E. Fleming, E-mail: anita.fleming@lincoln.ac.nz

References

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Modelling feeding strategies to improve milk production, rumen function and discomfort of the early lactation dairy cow supplemented with fodder beet

  • A. E. Fleming (a1), D. Dalley (a2), R. H. Bryant (a1), G. R. Edwards (a1) and P. Gregorini (a1)...

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