An experiment was carried out to evaluate the effects of forage type and level of concentrate supplementation on forage intake, diet apparent digestibility, purine excretion and milk production. Twelve crossbred cows (Bos taurus × Bos indicus), in early lactation, were allocated to the following six dietary treatments: maize-lablab forage (ML) or oat-vetch forage (OV), offered ad libitum, and supplemented with either 0, 2·5 or 5·0 kg per cow per day of a supplement (wheat middlings). A four-period, partially balanced, change-over design was used and the treatments were arranged as 2 × 3 factorial.
Mean organic matter (OM) intake was 670 g higher with cows on ML-based diets compared with those on OV-based diets (P <0·02). The apparent digestibilities of crude protein (CP) and neutral detergent fibre (NDF) were similar for cows given ML- or OV-based diets but the apparent digestibility of OM was higher for ML diets (P <0·05). Values of the degradation parameters (a, b and c) of DM and NDF were greater for ML forage than for the OV forage. Forage type did not affect daily milk yield nor excretion of purine derivatives in urine used to estimate microbial-nitrogen supply (P >0·05). The concentration of milk fat and total solids in the milk were similar for the two forage types offered but the concentration of milk protein was slightly higher for the cows given ML-based diets (P <0·05).
Daily OM intake increased by 3·75 and 2·70 kg per cow per day (P <0·001) respectively, when the amount of concentrate increased from 0 to 5·0 kg per cow per day for the ML- and OV-based diets. The CP apparent digestibilities of the diets were higher when the diets were supplemented with concentrates but there was no effect of supplementation on the apparent digestibilities of OM and NDF. The supply of microbial-nitrogen increased linearly with increasing level of concentrate supplementation (P <0·05). Milk yield increased linearly when the level of concentrate supplement increased from 0 to 5 kg (P <0·001), resulting in 0·39 and 0·29 kg more milk per day per kg additional concentrate given in cows on ML and OV, respectively. There was also a tendency for a quadratic effect (P <0·12), especially with ML diets, showing that when the level of concentrate increased from 0 to 2·5 or from 2·5 to 5·0 kg/day, the milk yield increased respectively by 0·62 and 0·15 kg/day per kg additional concentrate given.