Incorporating a fresh mixed annual ryegrass and berseem clover forage into the winter diet of dairy cows resulted in reduced milk yield, but reduced nitrogen excretion and reduced methane yield

Daniel Enriquez-Hidalgo*, Dayane Lemos Teixeira, Luiz Carlos Pinheiro Machado Filho, Deirdre Hennessy, Paula Toro-Mujica, Shaun Richard Owen Williams, Fabiellen Cristina Pereira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

The winter diet of dairy cows in Mediterranean climate regions is usually a total mixed ration with a base of conserved summer crops such as corn silage and alfalfa hay. However, there is increased labor and financial cost related to this kind of feeding, which could be reduced if fresh forages were used in place of some of the conserved forage in the cow diet. The objective of our study was to evaluate the effect of including fresh mixed annual ryegrass and berseem clover into the diet of dairy cows on milk, nitrogen utilization and methane emission. Twenty-four lactating dairy cows were split into two groups and offered either a diet similar to that usually offered to the cows (CON) or one where a mixture of fresh annual ryegrass and berseem clover was used to partially substitute the corn silage and alfalfa hay in the diet (MIX). Milk yield was recorded automatically, and methane emissions were estimated using the SF6 tracer technique. The MIX diet had lower crude protein concentration (148 vs. 170 g/kg DM) but higher DM digestibility (81.6 vs. 78.6%) than the CON diet. Compared to the cows offered the CON diet, milk yield was reduced when cows were fed the MIX diet (36.4 vs. 31.9 kg/d), but methane emissions (381 vs. 332 g/d) and nitrogen excretion were also reduced (238 vs. 180 g/d). Nitrogen use efficiency was unaffected (30.8%). In addition, milk from cows fed the MIX diet had a fatty acid profile considered to be more beneficial to human health than that of the milk from cows fed the CON diet. Increasing the protein concentration in the MIX diet, either by direct supplementation or increasing the proportion of legume in the mixed herbage, could overcome the reduction on milk and positively affect methane emission and N use efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Article number576944
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • mixed herbage
  • Trifolium alexandrinum
  • Lolium multiflorum
  • total mixed ration
  • dairy cattle
  • enteric methane
  • milk production
  • milk quality

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