Twenty-one Jersey cows in their 6th–8th week of lactation grazed Chloris gayana pastures fertilized with nitrogen and were treated in three ways, no casein (control), casein (1 kg/cow/day) or formal-casein (1 kg/cow/day) in seven 3 x 3 Latin squares to measure the effect of protein protection on milk yield and milk composition. Additional animals fitted with oesophageal and rumen fistulae were used to determine composition of the diet selected and rumen characteristics on three treatments.
Cows ingested herbage containing 20% crude protein with a protein solubility of 40%. The untreated casein supplement increased milk yield by 3%, fat 5% and protein 2·4%. Formal-casein produced 20% (3·3 kg/day) more milk than the control, a 13% higher yield of butterfat and 27% more protein. Rumen ammonia concentrations in the afternoon were similar for the control and formal-casein supplemented cows (21 and 23mg/100ml) but significantly higher when casein was fed (74 mg/100 ml) indicating extensive deamination of the untreated protein.
Yields of C4–C16 fatty acids in milk fat were 8 and 21% higher for the casein and formal-casein treatments than for the controls, which together with the higher live weight of formal-casein supplemented cows indicated that the milk yield response to the protein supplements was mainly due to a higher daily intake of herbage.