A model of sugarcane digestion was applied to indicate the suitability of various locally available supplements for enhancing milk production of Indian crossbred dairy cattle. Milk production was calculated according to simulated energy, lipogenic, glucogenic and aminogenic substrate availability. The model identified the most limiting substrate for milk production from different sugarcane-based diets. For sugarcane tops/urea fed alone, milk production was most limited by amino acid followed by long chain fatty acid availability. Among the protein-rich oil cake supplements at 100, 200 and 300 g supplement/kg total DM, cottonseed oil cake proved superior with a milk yield of 5·5, 7·3 and 8·3 kg/day, respectively. This was followed by mustard oil cake with 5·1, 6·5 and 7·6 kg/day, respectively. In the case of a protein-rich supplement (fish meal), milk yield was limited to 6·6 kg/day due to a shortage of long chain fatty acids. However, at 300 g of supplementation, energy became limiting, with a milk yield of 6·7 kg/day. Supplementation with rice bran and rice polishings at 100, 200 and 300 g restricted milk yield to 4·3, 4·9 and 5·5 and 4·5, 5·3 and 6·1 kg/day, respectively, and amino acids became the factor limiting milk production. The diet comprising basal sugarcane tops supplemented by leguminous fodder, dry fodder (e.g. rice or wheat straw) and concentrates at levels of 100, 200 and 300 g supplements/kg total diet DM proved to be the most balanced with a milk yield of 5·1, 6·7 and 9·0 kg/day, respectively.