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Short communication: Feeding fat from distillers dried grains with solubles to dairy heifers: III. Effects on posttrial reproductive and lactation performance

J.L. Anderson, K.F. Kalscheur, A.D. Garcia, D.J. Schingoethe
Journal of dairy science 2015 v.98 no.8 pp. 5720-5725
Holstein, body measurements, body weight, calving, cattle feeding, cholesterol, conception, corn, corn silage, dairy heifers, dairy herds, dietary fat, distillers grains, energy, fatty acids, foodways, grass hay, growth performance, lactation, low fat diet, milk protein yield, minerals, puberty, reproductive performance, soybean products, starch, vitamins, withers
The objective of this research was to determine the subsequent effects on lactation and reproductive performance from feeding fat from distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to growing dairy heifers. During the prepubertal growth phase, 33 Holstein heifers (133±18 d old) were used in a 24-wk randomized complete block design. Treatments included (1) a control diet (CON) containing ground corn and soybean products, 2) a diet with low-fat DDGS (LFDG), and (3) a higher-fat diet with traditional DDGS (HFDG). All diets contained 39.8% grass hay, 24.8% corn silage, and 1.5% vitamins and minerals. Previous results demonstrated that growth performance was maintained across treatments, but plasma cholesterol and fatty acids were greater and puberty may occur earlier in heifers fed HFDG. It was hypothesized that differences among treatments in metabolic profile and puberty may influence reproductive and first-lactation performance. Posttrial data on reproductive performance and milk production for the first 4 mo of lactation were collected for each heifer from dairy herd records. At 3wk prepartum and at calving, body weights, body condition scores, and body measurements were taken. No differences were observed among treatments for age at conception or age at calving. At calving, heifers fed the HFDG were shorter in withers height compared with heifers fed the other diets. Milk yields and components were similar or improved in heifers fed the distillers grains diets compared with heifers fed CON. Heifers fed LFDG had greater milk production and a tendency for greater milk protein yields compared with the heifers fed CON. Energy-corrected milk yields were similar among treatments. Feeding increased dietary fat from DDGS during the prepubertal growth phase did not negatively affect milk production, despite earlier attainment of puberty compared with other treatments. The overall ADG for all 3 treatments was 0.96kg/d during the prepubertal period, which is greater than recommended and may have compromised milk yield across treatments. Based on these findings, producers can feed either DDGS or LFDG with corn in replacement of soybean products and corn to prepubertal heifers and maintain or enhance subsequent reproductive and lactation performance. Dietary fat from DDGS can replace starch from corn as an energy source for prepubertal heifers without detriment to later performance.