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Feeding behaviors of transition dairy cows fed glycerol as a replacement for corn

Carvalho, E. R., Schmelz-Roberts, N. S., White, H. M., Wilcox, C. S., Eicher, S. D., Donkin, S. S.
Journal of dairy science 2012 v.95 no.12 pp. 7214
Holstein, corn, cow feeding, dairy cows, diet, diurnal variation, feed composition, feed intake, feeding preferences, glycerol, nutritive value, particle size, postpartum interval, prepartum period, rumen, separators, sorting, tie stalls, total mixed rations
Feed sorting is a natural behavior of dairy cows that can result in inconsistencies in the nutritive value of a total mixed ration (TMR). The objective of this study was to determine the effects of replacing high-moisture corn with glycerol on feed sorting and the feed intake pattern of transition dairy cows. Multiparous Holstein cows (n = 26) were paired by expected calving date, housed in individual tie stalls, and fed diets containing either glycerol or high-moisture corn once daily from d −28 to +56 relative to calving. Glycerol was included at 11.5 and 10.8% of the ration dry matter for the pre- and postpartum diets, respectively. The feed consumption pattern was determined by measuring TMR disappearance during the intervals from 0 to 4 h, 4 to 8 h, 8 to 12 h, and 12 to 24 h relative to feed delivery. Feed sorting was determined on d −16, −9, 9, 16, and 51 relative to calving at 4, 8, 12 and 24 h after feeding. The TMR particle size profile was determined at feed delivery and at 4, 8, 12, and 24 after feed delivery by using the Penn State Particle Separator (Nasco, Fort Atkinson, WI) to yield long (>19 mm), medium (<19 mm, >8 mm), short (<8 mm, >1.18 mm), and fine (<1.18 mm) particles. Overall feed intake did not differ between diets and was 14.7 ± 0.4 and 20.2 ± 0.5 kg/d for the pre- and postpartum intervals, respectively. During the prepartum period, glycerol decreased the amount of feed consumed during the first 4 h after feed delivery (7.22 vs. 5.59 ± 0.35 kg; control vs. glycerol, respectively) but increased feed consumed from 12 through 24 h after feed delivery (2.22 vs. 3.82 ± 0.35 kg; control vs. glycerol, respectively). Similar effects on the feed consumption pattern were observed after calving. During the prepartum period, cows fed the control diet sorted against long particles, whereas cows fed glycerol did not sort against long particles (77.2 vs. 101.5 ± 3.50% of expected intake for control vs. glycerol; significant treatment effect). The data indicate that addition of glycerol to the TMR alters the feed consumption pattern to increase feed consumption late in the day at the expense of feed consumed immediately after feeding, and it reduces sorting behavior against long particles. Together, these may reduce diurnal variations in the rumen environment to promote greater rumen health in transition cows.