Submitted to: Proceedings of the US Dairy Forage Research Center Information Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 16, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Carbohydrates are an important component in dairy rations that provide the majority of energy for cows but also comprise the feed fractions which limit intake and digestibility. Because they vary tremendously in nutritive availability and their effects on ruminal function and intake, analysis of carbohydrates is a critical element in determining their role in ration formulation. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, plant cell walls and neutral detergent fiber represent different approaches to carbohydrate classification and analysis. Fiber is a nutritional term that defines the indigestible and slowly digesting fractions of feeds that occupy space in the gastrointestinal tract. The amylase-treated neutral detergent fiber method solves most of the problems associated with fiber analysis and can be a useful tool for ration formulation. The NDF content of feeds, when adjusted for differences in filling effect and physical effectiveness, can be used to determine the maximum and minimum fiber in dairy rations. It provides an excellent tool for evaluating the fiber, carbohydrate, and energy characteristics of feeds and rations and can be the basis for formulating rations for dairy cows that are more effective, efficient, and profitable.