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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Research Project #444528

Research Project: Forage and Fiber Utilization in Dairy Cow Diets

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Project Number: 5090-31000-027-026-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 31, 2028

As much as 50% of the fiber from forages pass through the dairy cow’s digestive tract and is not utilized for milk production. The overall objective of this research is to improve the utilization of fiber by dairy cattle through greater utilization of fiber in forages and agro-byproducts. The specific objective will be to evaluate the factors that improve the nutrient utilization in the diets fed to high producing dairy cows resulting in improved animal performance, improved the conversion of feed to milk, and decreased enteric methane emissions.

Feeding studies will be conducted to determine the effect of forage and fiberous byproducts on lactation performance, feed conversion efficiency, and enteric methane emissions of high producing dairy cows. Cows will be fed in early lactation or at peak milk production. Cows will be milked 3-times per day in a milking parlor. Milk yield will be recorded daily during the sampling period. Milk samples will be analyzed for fat, protein, lactose, and milk urea nitrogen. Standing, laying, eating, and ruminating behaviors will be visually assessed and recorded every 5 minutes over a 24-hour period on two consecutive weeks during the study. Fecal grab samples will be collected over a 4-day period to determine nutrient digestibility of the diets. Methane emissions will be determined an emissions monitoring system or with environmental chambers.