Reducing concentrate supplementation in dairy cow diets while monitoring milk production with pea-wheat intercrops

William J. Fisher, Adegbola Tolulope Adesogan, Mustapha Bello Salawu, Richard J. Dewhurst, Selwyn Parry Williams

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In the first of 2 experiments, 40 dairy cows were used to evaluate the milk production potential and concentrate-sparing effect of feeding dairy cows a basal diet of pea-wheat intercrop silages instead of perennial rye-grass silage (GS). Dairy cows were offered GS or 2 intercrop silages prepared from wheat and either Magnus peas (MW, a tall-straw variety) or Setchey peas (SW, a short-straw variety) ad libitum. The respective intercrops were supplemented with 4 kg/d of a dairy concentrate (CP = 240 g/kg dry matter; MW4 and SW4), and the GS were supplemented with 4 (GS4) or 8 (GS8) kg/d of the same concentrate. The second experiment measured the forage DM intake, digestibility, rumen function, and microbial protein synthesis from the forages by offering them alone to 3, nonlactating cows (3 x 3 Latin square design with 21-d periods). Forage dry matter intake was greater in cows fed the intercrop silages than those fed GS. Milk production was greater in cows fed SW4 than those fed GS4 or MW4, but similar to cows fed GS8. Dietary treatment did not affect milk fat, protein, or lactose concentrations. The intercrops had greater N retention, and were more digestible than the GS, and these factors probably contributed to the greater forage DM intakes and greater milk production from the intercrop silages compared with the GS. Rumen volatile fatty acid concentrations were similar across forages, but urinary purine derivative excretion was greater in the cows fed the intercrop silages than the GS, suggesting that rumen microbial protein synthesis was enhanced by feeding the intercrops. In conclusion, similar milk yield and milk composition can be obtained by feeding SW and 4 kg of concentrates as that obtained with GS and 8 kg of concentrates. Feeding intercrop silages instead of GS with the same amount of concentrates increased forage intakes, N retention, and microbial protein synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3398-3406
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


  • bi-crop
  • cereal-legume
  • rumen function
  • pea-wheat


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