Effects of feeding cows in early lactation with soy hulls as partial forage replacement on heat production, retained energy and performance

J. Miron*, G. Adin, R. Solomon, M. Nikbachat, A. Zenou, E. Yosef, A. Brosh, A. Shabtay, A. Asher, H. Gacitua, M. Kaim, S. Yaacobi, Y. Portnik, S. J. Mabjeesh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study measured the effects of replacing corn silage and vetch hay by soy hulls in total mixed rations (TMRs) fed to 25 pairs of cows through 90 d in milk, on dry matter (DM) intake, in vivo digestibility, milk yield and composition, onset of normal estrous activity, body condition score (BCS), health and the energy balance of lactating cows. The partitioning of metabolizable energy (ME) intake between heat production (HP) and retained energy (RE) in milk and body change of each cow was measured. The two TMRs differed in the content of forage and forage aNDFom [235 g/kg versus 350 g/kg; and 128 g/kg versus 187 g/kg DM, in the experimental (EXP) and control (CON) diets, respectively]. This was reflected by an increase in voluntary DM intake by 7.2% (P=0.02) in the EXP group as compared with the CON. In vivo DM and aNDFom digestibility were 4.9% (P=0.03) and 22.7% higher (P=0.01), respectively, in the EXP group than in the CON. The higher DM intake and digestibility of the EXP TMR were reflected by a concomitant increase of 7.4% in milk yield and 10.8% in RE (P=0.01) of the EXP cows as compared with the CON. The two dietary groups expressed similar somatic cell counts, and metabolic disorders (i.e., ketosis and/or lameness), as well as pedometer activity (steps/h) suggesting similar udder health, behavior and animal welfare. A trend to an earlier return to normal ovarian activity occurred in the EXP cows as reflected by fewer days to 1st ovulation and advanced outset of estrous cycle. Despite the higher RE of the EXP cows, the HP of both groups was maintained at an upper level of 141-136 MJ/cow/d during the 90 d of the experiment.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to express our appreciation to the Volcani Center dairy farm team for their efforts in feedings the cows and to Mr. Zwi Sarid and his team from ‘Yavne Feeding Center’, for the preparation and supply of the TMR. This study was supported by a research grant # 362-071-06 of the Israeli Milk Council .


  • Early lactating cow
  • Heat production
  • Intake and digestibility
  • Net energy for lactation
  • Soy hulls


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