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Open Access Research

Effects of different sources of carbohydrates on intake, digestibility, chewing, and performance of Holstein dairy cows

Simin Poorkasegaran1 and Asadollah Teimouri Yansari12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Science, Animal Science and Aquaculture Faculty, Sari Agricultural and Natural Resource University, Sari, Mazandaran, Iran

2 Department of Animal Science, Educational Center of Tajan, GhaemShahar, Mazandaran, Iran

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Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 2014, 5:6  doi:10.1186/2049-1891-5-6

Published: 13 January 2014


To investigate the effects of different sources of carbohydrates on intake, digestibility, chewing, and performance, nine lactating Holstein dairy cows (day in milk= 100±21 d; body weight=645.7 ± 26.5 kg) were allotted to a 3 × 3 Latin square design at three 23-d periods. The three treatments included 34.91% (B), 18.87% (BC), and 18.86% (BB) barley that in treatment B was partially replaced with only corn or corn plus beet pulp in treatments BC and BB, respectively. The concentration of starch and neutral detergent soluble carbohydrate varied (22.2, 20.2, and 14.5; 13.6, 15.9, and 20.1% of DM in treatments B, BC, and BB, respectively). Cows in treatment BB showed a higher DMI and improved digestibility of DM, NDF, and EE compared with treatments B or BC. Ruminal pH was higher in cows fed on BB (6.83) compared with those that received B or BC treatments (6.62 and 6.73, respectively). A lower proportion of propionate accompanied the higher pH in the BB group; however, a greater proportion of acetate and acetate: propionate ratio was observed compared with cows fed either on the B or BC diet. Moreover, cows fed on the BB diet showed the lowest ruminal passage rate and longest ruminal and total retention time. Eating time did not differ among treatments, rumination time was greater among cows fed on the BB diet compared with the others, whereas total chewing activity was greater than those fed on BC, but similar to those fed on B. The treatments showed no effect on milk yield. Partially replacing barley with corn or beet pulp resulted in an increase in milk fat and a lower protein concentration. Changing dietary NFC with that of a different degradability thus altered intake, chewing activity, ruminal environment, retention time or passage rate, and lactation performance. The results of this study showed that beet pulp with a higher NDF and a detergent-soluble carbohydrate or pectin established a more consistent ruminal mat than barley and corn, thus resulting in higher mean retention time and chewing activity, whereas no changes in 3.5% FCM and milk fat were observed.

Chewing activity; Dairy cow; Detergent-soluble carbohydrate; Fiber; Neutral detergent fiber; Physically effective fiber; Ruminal characteristics