Production, milk fatty acid profile, and nutrient utilization in grazing dairy cows supplemented with ground flaxseed.

Academic Article


  • Flaxseed has been extensively used as a supplement for dairy cows because of its high concentrations of energy and the n-3 fatty acid (FA) cis-9,cis-12,cis-15 18:3. However, limited information is available regarding the effect of ground flaxseed on dry matter intake (DMI), ruminal fermentation, and nutrient utilization in grazing dairy cows. Twenty multiparous Jersey cows averaging (mean ± standard deviation) 111 ± 49 d in milk in the beginning of the study were used in a randomized complete block design to investigate the effects of supplementing herbage (i.e., grazed forage) with ground corn-soybean meal mix (control diet = CTRL) or ground flaxseed (flaxseed diet = FLX) on animal production, milk FA, ruminal metabolism, and nutrient digestibility. The study was conducted from June to September 2013, with data and sample collection taking place on wk 4, 8, 12, and 16. Cows were fed a diet formulated to yield a 60:40 forage-to-concentrate ratio consisting of (dry matter basis): 40% cool-season perennial herbage, 50% partial total mixed ration, and 10% of ground corn-soybean meal mix or 10% ground flaxseed. However, estimated herbage DMI averaged 5.59 kg/d or 34% of the total DMI. Significant treatment by week interactions were observed for milk and blood urea N, and several milk FA (e.g., trans-10 18:1). No significant differences between treatments were observed for herbage and total DMI, milk yield, feed efficiency, concentrations and yields of milk components, and urinary excretion of purine derivatives. Total-tract digestibility of organic matter decreased, whereas that of neutral detergent fiber increased with feeding FLX versus CTRL. No treatment effects were observed for ruminal concentrations of total volatile FA and NH3-N, and ruminal proportions of acetate and propionate. Ruminal butyrate tended to decrease, and the acetate-to-propionate ratio decreased in the FLX diet. Most saturated and unsaturated FA in milk fat were changed. Specifically, milk proportion of cis-9,cis-12,cis-15 18:3, Σn-3 FA, and Σ18C FA increased, whereas that of cis-9,cis-12 18:2, Σn-6 FA, Σ odd-chain FA, Σ<16C FA, and Σ16C FA decreased with feeding FLX versus the CTRL diet. In conclusion, feeding FLX did not change yields of milk and milk components, but increased milk n-3 FA. Therefore, costs and industry adoption of premiums for n-3-enriched milk will determine the adoption of ground flaxseed in pasture-based dairy farms.
  • Authors

  • Isenberg, BJ
  • Soder, KJ
  • Pereira, ABD
  • Standish, R
  • Brito, Andre
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • February 2019
  • Published In


  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Digestion
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Female
  • Fermentation
  • Flax
  • Lactation
  • Milk
  • Nutrients
  • Rumen
  • Soybeans
  • energy supplementation
  • milk yield
  • pasture
  • α-linolenic acid
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 30591336
  • Start Page

  • 1294
  • End Page

  • 1311
  • Volume

  • 102
  • Issue

  • 2