Production performance and milk fatty acid profile in grazing dairy cows offered ground corn or liquid molasses as the sole supplemental nonstructural carbohydrate source.

Academic Article


  • The objective of this study was to compare the effects of ground corn or liquid molasses fed as the sole supplemental nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC) source on production performance, milk fatty acid (FA) profile, grazing behavior, and N metabolism in grazing dairy cows. A strip-grazing management system was used, with cows offered a new strip of fresh herbage after each milking, resulting in approximately 16 h of access to pasture daily. Animals were fed a diet formulated to yield an 86:14 forage-to-concentrate ratio consisting [dry matter (DM) basis] of 74% mixed grass-legume herbage, 12% mixed-mostly legume baleage, 12% NSC source, and 2% mineral-vitamin premix. Twenty Jersey cows averaging (mean ± standard deviation) 121 ± 73 d in milk in the beginning of the study were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 herbage supplementation treatments: (1) baleage plus ground corn (B+GC) or (2) baleage + liquid molasses (B+LM). Both NSC sources were fed at a flat rate of 1.6 kg of DM/cow daily. The study lasted from June to September for a total of 15 wk with data and sample collection conducted in wk 3, 7, 12, and 15. Milk samples for FA analysis were collected in wk 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, and 13. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC) for a randomized complete block design with repeated measures over time. Treatment × week interactions were observed for supplement DM intake, milk urea N, bite rate, urinary excretion of uric acid, and milk FA (e.g., 17:0, 18:0, cis-9,trans-11 18:2). Supplement DM intake was greatest in cows fed B+LM in wk 7, 12, and 15. Compared with cows fed B+GC, those fed B+LM had lower concentrations of milk urea N in wk 7 and 15. Milk yield, concentrations and yields of milk components, and plasma concentrations of essential AA, except Met, which was lowest with feeding B+LM, were not affected by supplementation. The plasma concentration of urea N was lowest with feeding B+LM. Cows fed B+GC spent more time grazing than those fed B+LM. Feeding B+GC increased cis-9 18:1 FA and most trans-18:1 FA in milk, whereas B+LM increased Σ odd-chain FA, Σ n-3 FA, and the trans-11 18:1 to trans-10 18:1 ratio, and decreased the n-6 to n-3 ratio. Based on current results, B+LM can entirely replace B+GC without negatively affecting milk yield or yields and concentrations of milk fat and true protein, while decreasing milk urea N, plasma urea N, and the milk trans-11 18:1 to trans-10 18:1 ratio, and increasing Σ n-3 FA.
  • Authors

  • Brito, Andre
  • Soder, KJ
  • Chouinard, PY
  • Reis, SF
  • Ross, S
  • Rubano, MD
  • Casler, MD
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • October 2017
  • Published In


  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Diet
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Fatty Acids
  • Female
  • Lactation
  • Milk
  • Molasses
  • Random Allocation
  • Zea mays
  • grazing dairy cow
  • ground corn
  • liquid molasses
  • milk fatty acid
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 28780091
  • Start Page

  • 8146
  • End Page

  • 8160
  • Volume

  • 100
  • Issue

  • 10