Comparison of red clover and ryegrass silage for dry cows and influence on subsequent lactation performance

Jon Moorby, Paul H. Robinson, William J. Fisher, Roger T. Evans

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6 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate the use of red clover (RC) silage as a forage for dry dairy cows, primarily relative to its impact on tissue mobilization and repletion during the transition period and performance during the first 10 wk of lactation. Forty multiparous lactating Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were divided into 2 paired groups at 70 d before predicted calving dates; a subset (n = 8) of the cows were used for N and P balance measurements twice during the study. From the start of the experiment until 4 wk before predicted calving date all cows were offered ad libitum access to a ryegrass (RG) silage with no concentrate. At 4 wk before predicted calving date, one group of cows remained on the same diet, and the other group was changed to a diet of ad libitum access to RC silage. There was no difference in feed intakes, but CP intake was higher in cows fed RC silage, whereas ME intake was higher in cows fed RG silage. Cows fed RG silage gained more weight over the last 4 wk of the dry period (DP) than those fed RC silage, but there was no treatment effect on BCS. During the DP fecal N excretion was higher for cows fed RC silage, and there were no treatment differences in urine N excretion or overall N balance. At birth, calves from cows fed the RC silage were heavier. After calving, all cows were offered the same diet of ad libitum access to the same RG silage and a standard lactation concentrate. During the first 10 wk of lactation there was no difference in feed intake between the 2 previous treatment groups, and feed intake reached a maximum at approximately 4 wk of lactation. Cows on the RG treatment during the DP gained more longissimus dorsi muscle depth during the DP and retained it during early lactation. Mobilization of this muscle occurred before calving, indicating repartitioning of amino acids to other body tissues. There were no carryover effects of DP treatment on apparent partitioning of N from diet to milk, urine, or feces at wk 3 of lactation. Feeding RC silage during the DP had almost no impact on subsequent performance of dairy cows in early lactation, probably because the 2 silages were nutritionally very similar.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3501-3511
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume91
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008

Keywords

  • dry period
  • nitrogen balance
  • red clover silage
  • tissue mobilization

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