Dried distillers grains plus solubles with corn silage or alfalfa hay as the primary forage source in dairy cow diets.



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Journal of Dairy Science








Nine multiparous (250 ± 6 d in milk) and 3 primiparous (204 ± 6 d in milk) Holstein cows were utilized in a 3 × 3 Latin square design to evaluate the lactation performance of cows fed a diet containing dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS) with either corn silage or alfalfa hay as forage. Cows were fed total mixed diets containing corn silage (CS), 50% corn silage and 50% alfalfa hay (CSAH), or alfalfa hay (AH) as the forage source. All diets had a 50:50 forage-to-concentrate ratio, contained 15% DDGS, and were formulated to be equal in metabolizable protein. Dry matter intake increased when cows were fed CSAH (24.9 kg/d) compared with CS (21.9 kg/d) and AH (20.9 kg/d). Yields of milk (26.5, 28.4, 29.0 kg/d for CS, CSAH, and AH, respectively) increased linearly as proportions of alfalfa fed increased but 4% fat-corrected milk and energy-corrected milk were not affected by treatment. Feed efficiency (1.28, 1.23, and 1.45 kg of energy-corrected milk/kg of intake) improved when AH was fed compared with CS or CSAH. Milk fat concentration (3.67, 3.55, and 3.49%) decreased linearly when alfalfa replaced corn silage, but was observed only in primiparous cows, not multiparous cows. Milk protein concentration (3.32, 3.29, and 3.29%) was not affected by diet although yield (0.90, 0.96, and 0.98 kg/d) tended to increase linearly when alfalfa was added to the diet. This may have been due to an increase in essential amino acid (AA) availability and uptake by the mammary gland or to greater crude protein intake in cows fed AH. In addition, replacing corn silage with alfalfa increased the uptake of Lys by the mammary gland. Methionine was the first-limiting AA based on the transfer efficiency of AA in arterial plasma to milk protein. However, Lys was the first-limiting AA in CS and CSAH and Met was first limiting in AH for mammary gland extraction efficiency of AA from plasma. In conclusion, replacing corn silage with alfalfa hay in diets containing 15% DDGS increased milk yield and tended to increase milk protein yield linearly in cows during late lactation. Feeding alfalfa hay as the sole forage source improved feed efficiency compared with diets containing corn silage.