Short communication: Feeding red clover cut in the afternoon or morning to late-lactation dairy cows.

Antaya, N.T., Berthiaume, R., Tremblay, G.F., and Brito, A.F. (2015). "Short communication: Feeding red clover cut in the afternoon or morning to late-lactation dairy cows.", Journal of Dairy Science (JDS), 98(10), pp. 7335-7339. doi : 10.3168/jds.2015-9333  Access to full text


Forages cut in the afternoon (p.m.) generally yield a higher concentration of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) than those cut in the morning (a.m.). We aimed to compare the effects of p.m.-cut red clover baleage (p.m.-RC) versus a.m.-cut RC baleage (a.m.-RC) on milk yield, concentrations and yields of milk components, and apparent total-tract digestibility of nutrients in late-lactation Holstein cows. Twelve multiparous and 2 primiparous Holstein cows received a total mixed ration containing, on a dry matter (DM) basis, 65% p.m.-RC or a.m.-RC plus 35% concentrate in a crossover design with 14 d for diet adaptation and 7 d for data and sample collection. One RC field was split in 2 with the first half cut in the afternoon (1600 h) and the second half in the following morning (0600 h). The p.m.-RC and a.m.-RC contained (% of DM): 12.6 versus 9.43% NSC in samples collected before the beginning of the experiment and 7.49 versus 7.79% NSC in samples collected during the sampling periods (i.e., d 14 to 21). The total mixed rations averaged 18.2 and 17.5% NSC for the p.m.-RC and a.m.-RC, respectively. Feeding p.m.-RC or a.m.-RC did not improve feed intake or milk yield and composition in late-lactation dairy cows. However, milk urea N and plasma urea N were both lowest in cows offered p.m.-RC. With the exception of the apparent total-tract digestibility of DM, which was highest in cows fed p.m.-RC, no other changes in nutrient digestibility were observed. Similarly, no treatment effect was observed for the urinary excretion of N and purine derivatives. Further research is needed to better understand NSC losses during storage and the associated effects on baleage quality and animal performance.

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