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Effect of herbage allowance and concentrate supplementation on dry matter intake, milk production and energy balance of early lactating dairy cows

Kennedy, E., O'Donovan, M., Delaby, L., O'Mara, F.P.
Livestock science 2008 v.117 no.2-3 pp. 275-286
cow feeding, free fatty acids, Holstein, dairy cows, parity (reproduction), forage, energy balance, feed supplements, blood lipids, feed conversion, body weight, blood glucose, dry matter intake, milk yield, early lactation, experimental diets, long term effects, longitudinal studies, feed concentrates, ketones
The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of daily herbage allowance and concentrate supplementation level offered at approximately 40 and 80 days in milk (DIM) and the carryover effects at 120 DIM on the production performance of spring calving dairy cows. Sixty-six (30 primiparous and 36 multiparous) Holstein-Friesian dairy cows (mean calving date -- 7 Feb±9.9 days) were randomly assigned to a 6 treatment (n =11) grazing study. The experiment was a randomised block design with a 3x2 factorial arrangement of treatments (3 daily herbage allowances (DHA's; approximately 13, 16 and 19 kg DM/cow/day; >4 cm) and 2 concentrate allowances (0 and 4 kg DM/day). Treatments were imposed from 21 February to 8 May. Following this period (subsequent 4-weeks) animals were offered a daily herbage allowance of 20 kg DM/cow/day and no concentrate. Milk production, total dry matter intake (TDMI), energy balance (EB) and blood metabolites were measured on three occasions -- at approximately 40, 80 and 120 days in milk, R1, R2 and the carryover period, respectively. Cows offered a low DHA had a lower post-grazing sward height but increased sward utilisation (>4 cm) during R1 and R2, there was no difference during the carryover period. Concentrate supplementation increased post-grazing sward height by 11% during R2 but had no effect during R1 and the carryover period. Daily herbage allowance had no effect on milk yield or composition during R1 however a low DHA tended to reduce milk yield in R2. Concentrate supplementation increased milk and solids corrected milk (SCM) yield by 4.1 and 2.8 kg/cow/day, respectively during R1 and also increased R2 milk production performance, this effect extended into the carryover period. Offering a low DHA restricted grass dry matter intake (DMI) during R1 and R2 yet concentrate supplementation significantly increased total DMI (2.3 (R1) and 3.0 (R2) kg DM/cow). Animals offered a low DHA had a significantly lower bodyweight (BW) than those offered a medium or high DHA during P1 and P2. Concentrate supplementation increased BW during P1 and P2 (+9 and +14 kg/cow, respectively). There was no effect of treatment on BW during P3. There was no effect of DHA on EB in R1; during R2 animals offered a low DHA had the lowest EB. Concentrate significantly increased EB in R1 and R2 and increased plasma glucose concentration while it decreased plasma NEFA and BHB concentrations. The results of this study indicate that animals should be offered a low DHA up to 80 DIM after which DHA should be increased however animals should also be supplemented with concentrate during the early post-partum period.