Effect of feeding cows in early lactation with diets differing in roughage-neutral detergent fiber content on intake behavior, rumination, and milk production

G. Adin, R. Solomon, M. Nikbachat, A. Zenou, E. Yosef, A. Brosh, A. Shabtay, S. J. Mabjeesh, I. Halachmi, J. Miron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


This study measured the effects of including soyhulls as partial roughage replacement in total mixed rations (TMR) fed to 25 pairs of cows during early lactation, on the dry matter (DM) intake, particle kinetics, rumination, in vivo DM and NDF digestibility, milk and FCM yields, and BW changes. The 2 diets used in this study differed in the content of roughage and roughage NDF [23.5 vs. 35.0%, and 12.8 vs. 18.7% in the experimental (EXP) and control (CON) TMR, respectively]. The EXP TMR contained 20.5% less physically effective NDF than the CON TMR (11.7 vs. 14.1% of DM, respectively). These differences were expressed in a greater intake per meal (by 13.3%), a higher rate of meal intake (by 23.2%), a similar number of meals per day, a shorter daily eating duration (by 13%), and a higher total daily DMI (by 7.2%) in the EXP cows as compared with the CON cows. The in vivo DM and NDF digestibility was higher by 4.9 and 22.7%, respectively, in the EXP cows than in the CON cows. The rumination time for the TMR in the EXP cows was 12.7% (54.3 min/d) shorter than in the CON cows, and this was probably related to the difference of 12.4% in physically effective NDF intake between the 2 groups. Patterns of daily rumination and feed consumption throughout an average day showed a delay of approximately 1 to 2 h between the eating and rumination peaks. Particle flow from the rumen of the EXP cows was characterized by a longer rumen mean retention time (by 17.8%) and longer rumination time per kilogram of roughage ingested (by 23.5%) as compared with the CON cows. Thus, favorable conditions for NDF digestion were created in the rumen of the EXP cows, as reflected in their rumen pH values (6.67). The advantage of the EXP cows in intake and digestibility was reflected in a concomitant increase of 7.4% in milk production and of 9.2% in FCM yield as compared with the CON cows. No difference was found between the 2 groups with respect to efficiency of feed utilization for milk production and BW changes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3364-3373
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We express our appreciation to the Volcani Center (Bet-Dagan, Israel) dairy farm team and to Zwi Sarid and his team from Yavne Feeding Center (Kibbutz Yavne, Israel) for their efforts in feedings the cows and to Doron Bar from SCR Engineers, for interpretation of the rumination data. This study was supported by research grant number 362-071-06 of the Israeli Milk Council (Rishon-Lezion, Israel).


  • Dry matter and neutral detergent fiber digestibility
  • Early-lactating cow
  • Eating behavior
  • Rumination


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