The objective of this study was to measure the effect of feeding two total mixed rations (TMRs), differing in their roughage content and in vitro dry matter (DM) digestibility, on the physiological response and energy balance of lactating cows. The partitioning of metabolizable energy intake (MEI) between heat production (HP) and retained energy (RE) of cows held under hot weather conditions and external evaporative cooling was measured. In all, 42 lactating cows were divided into two similar sub-groups, each of 21 animals, and were fed either a control (CON) ration containing 18% roughage neutral detergent fiber (NDF) or an experimental (EXP) TMR containing 12% roughage NDF and used soy hulls as partial wheat silage replacer. The in vitro DM digestibility of the CON and EXP TMR was 75.3% and 78.6%, respectively (P < 0.05). All cows were cooled by evaporative cooling for 2 adaptation weeks plus 6 experimental weeks under hot weather conditions. The EXP diet reduced rectal temperature and respiratory rate of the cows while increasing their DM intake (DMI) from 23.1 to 24.7 kg/cow per day, milk yield from 41.9 to 44.2 kg and yield of energy-corrected milk from 38.7 to 39.7 kg, as compared with the CON group. Cows fed the EXP TMR had increased RE in milk and body tissue, as compared with the CON group, but the diets had no effect on the measured HP that was maintained constant (130.4 v. 130.8 MJ/cow per day) in the two groups. The measured MEI (MEI = RE + HP) and the efficiency of MEI utilization for RE production were also similar in the two dietary groups.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We wish to express our appreciation to the Volcani Center dairy farm team for their efforts in cooling and feedings the cows, and to Mr Zwi Sarid and his team from ‘Yavne Feeding Center’ for preparing and delivering the two TMR. This study was supported by a research grant # 362-071-06 of the Israeli Milk Council.
- Dairy cows
- Energy expenditure
- Evaporative cooling under heat load
- Retained energy
- Soy hulls as roughage replacement