Ninety primiparous and 150 multiparous Israeli-Holstein dairy cows were allotted at random into three groups. One group (LSBM) was given 170 g crude protein (CP) per kg dry matter (DM). The two other groups were given 210 g CP per kg DM with the extra 40 g CP per kg DM supplied either by soya-bean meal (HSBM) or by fish meal (HFM). Roughage supplied proportionately 0·20 of the dietary DM and was maize silage with groundnut hay in the winter and wheat silage with oat grass in the summer. The primiparous and multiparous cows were offered the experimental diets for 16 and 24 weeks, respectively.
Milk, milk fat and milk protein production (kg/day), for treatments LSBM, HSBM and HFM, were: 39·3, 40·0, 40·8 (P > 0·05); 1·12, 118, 1·06 (P < 0·05) and 1·21, 1·23, 1·26 (P > 0·05) for multiparous cows and 29·4, 31·2, 33·4 (P < 0·05); 0·89, 1·07, 0·93 (P < 0·01) and 0·92, 0·98, 1·05 (P < 0·05) for primiparous cows, respectively. Cows of high yield potential responded more to increasing dietary protein level than did cows of low yield potential. Average live-weight gains on treatments LSBM, HSBM and HFM were (g/day): 220, 160 and 310 (P < 0·05) in multiparous cows and 220, 170 and 230 (P < 0·05) i n primiparous cows, respectively. Pregnancy rates, 16 weeks after parturition, were 0·65, 0·52 and 0·72 (P < 0·05), in the LSBM, HSBM and HFM groups, respectively. The decrease in pregnancy rate in the HSBM cows, occurred in primiparous cows and cows in their fourth or later lactation but not in cows in their second or third lactation. The milk production of primiparous and multiparous cows in relation to the level and source of dietary CP and the utilization of energy and protein for milk production is discussed.