Lactation performance and rumen fermentation in dairy cows fed a diet with alfalfa hay replaced by corn stover and supplemented with molasses

Wei, Zi-Hai;Liang, Shu-Lin;Wang, Di-Ming;Liu, Hong-Yun;Wanapat, Metha;Liu, Jian-Xin

  • Received : 2018.09.30
  • Accepted : 2019.01.08
  • Published : 2019.08.01


Objective: The objective of current study was to investigate the lactation performance and rumen fermentation characteristics of dairy cows fed a diet with alfalfa hay replaced by corn stover but supplemented with molasses. Methods: Sixteen Holstein cows in mid-lactation were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 dietary treatments: i) alfalfa based diet (AH), and ii) corn stover based diet supplemented with molasses (CSM). The experiment was conducted according to a $2{\times}2$ crossover design with 22-d each period, consisting of 17 d for adaptation and 5 d for data and samples collection. Results: Dry matter intake and milk yield were higher for cows fed AH than CSM (p<0.01). Milk protein content and nitrogen conversion were higher (p<0.05), while milk urea nitrogen was lower (p<0.01) for cows fed AH than CSM-fed cows. Contents of milk total solids, fat and lactose were not different between two groups (p>0.10). Total rumen volatile fatty acid concentration tended to be higher (p = 0.06) for cows fed AH than CSM-fed cows. Molar proportion of acetate was lower (p = 0.04), but valerate was higher (p = 0.02) in cows fed AH than CSM-fed cows. Rumen concentration of propionate, and isobutyrate, and ratio of acetate to propionate tended to be different (p<0.10) between two groups. The feed cost per kilogram of milk was lower in CSM than AH (p<0.01). No differences were found in feed efficiency and most plasma parameters tested (p>0.10). Conclusion: In comparison with AH diet, CSM diet could be fed to dairy cows without negative effect on feed efficiency, ruminal fermentation, but economically beneficial, indicating that CSM could be an alternative choice for dairy farms instead of AH to feed midlactation dairy cows.


Alfalfa Hay;Corn Stover;Dairy Cows;Lactation Performance;Molasses


Supported by : China Agriculture Research System, National Nature Science Foundation of China