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ABSTRACT: Twelve second-lactation Holstein cows were used in a replicated Latin square design to examine the effects of dietary wheat on lactation performance, ruminal fermentation, and whole-tract nutrient digestibility. Cows were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 diets containing 0, 10, and 20% steam-rolled wheat on a dry matter basis at the expense of steam-rolled barley. Cows were fed and milked twice daily. Six of the cows were ruminally cannulated, and rumen fluid samples were obtained from these cows 18 times during the last 2 d of each period. Treatment did not affect dry matter intake (20.9 kg/d) or yields of milk (36.1 kg/d) or milk components (1.25, 1.10, and 1.67 kg/d for fat, protein, and lactose, respectively). Fat percentage was not different among the treatments but protein content of the milk was reduced by the wheat treatments, and was lower when 10% wheat was included in the diet versus 20%. Cows fed wheat had lower ruminal pH (6.36 vs. 6.44) and greater NH(3)-N (11.49 vs. 8.10 mg/dL) and total volatile fatty acids (121 vs. 113 mM) concentrations than cows not fed wheat. The acetate:propionate ratio was lower for cows fed wheat than for those not fed wheat (3.21 vs. 3.36), but was not different between cows fed 10% versus 20% wheat. Wheat feeding did not alter whole-tract apparent digestibility of dry matter, crude protein, acid detergent fiber, and neutral detergent fiber. Results of this study show that up to 20% steam-rolled wheat can be included in the diet of dairy cows without compromising production or causing subacute ruminal acidosis if adequate fiber is provided and the diets are properly formulated and mixed.
Journal of Dairy Science 09/2009; 92(8):3825-32. · 2.57 Impact Factor