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Compared with stearic acid, palmitic acid increased the yield of milk fat and improved feed efficiency across production level of cows

Rico, J.E., Allen, M.S., Lock, A.L.
Journal of dairy science 2014 v.97 no.2 pp. 1057-1066
3-hydroxybutyric acid, Holstein, body condition, body weight, dairy cows, dairy protein, data collection, dietary supplements, dry matter intake, feed conversion, free fatty acids, glucose, insulin, milk, milk fat, milk fat yield, milk protein yield, palmitic acid, stearic acid
The effects of dietary palmitic and stearic acids on feed intake, yields of milk and milk components, and feed efficiency of dairy cows were evaluated in an experiment with a crossover arrangement of treatments with a covariate period. Cows with a wide range of milk production (38 to 65kg/d) were used to determine if response to fat supplementation varied according to production level. Thirty-two Holstein cows (143±61d in milk) were assigned randomly to a treatment sequence within level of milk production. Treatments were diets supplemented (2% of diet dry matter) with palmitic acid (PA; 97.9% C16:0) or stearic acid (SA; 97.4% C18:0). Treatment periods were 21d and cows were fed a nonfat supplemented diet for 14d immediately before the first treatment period. The final 4d of each period were used for sample and data collection. Milk production measured during the covariate period (preliminary milk yield) was used as the covariate. No interactions were detected between treatment and preliminary milk yield for the production response variables measured. Compared with SA, the PA treatment increased milk fat concentration (3.66 vs. 3.55%) and yield (1.68 vs. 1.59kg/d), and 3.5% fat-corrected milk yield (47.5 vs. 45.6kg/d). Treatment did not affect dry matter intake, milk yield, milk protein yield, body weight, or body condition score. Milk protein concentration was lower for PA compared with SA treatment (3.24 vs. 3.29%). The PA treatment increased feed efficiency (3.5% fat-corrected milk yield/dry matter intake) compared with SA (1.48 vs. 1.40). The increase in milk fat yield by PA was entirely accounted for by a 24% increase in 16-carbon fatty acid output into milk. Yields of de novo (3.2%) and preformed fatty acids (2.9%) were only slightly decreased by PA relative to SA. The PA treatment increased plasma concentration of nonesterified fatty acids (96.3 vs. 88.2μEq/L) and glucose (56.6 vs. 55.7mg/dL) compared with SA, but insulin and β-hydroxybutyrate were not altered by the treatments. Results demonstrate that palmitic acid is more effective than stearic acid in improving milk fat concentration and yield as well as efficiency of feed conversion to milk. Responses were independent of production level and without changes in body condition score or body weight. Further studies are required to test the consistency of these responses across different types of diets.