Start Date: Apr 25, 2012
End Date: Dec 31, 2014
Following on previous research with cooperator that established that calcium oxide (CaO) treatment of corn stover at ensiling improved fiber digestibility, and other studies that showed improved performance in beef cattle fed the CaO-treated corn stover (TCS), this experiment will evaluate the response of lactating dairy cattle to TCS. Corn stover will be ensiled with CaO at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center dairy facility in Prairie du Sac, WI. Four experimental diets will be used in an animal study with lactating dairy cows: a control diet with no TCS and three diets with TCS substituted at 3 levels for corn grain. Noncannulated cows (64) used for the lactation and total tract digestion study will be fed a covariate diet for 2 weeks, and then each of the treatment diets will be fed to 1/4 of the cows for 6 weeks. Cows will be sampled/observed for intake milk production, milk composition, behavior, and total tract fiber digestibility during the second week of the covariate period and in weeks 3 and 6 when experimental diets are fed. Cannulated cows (8) will be used in a 4x4 Latin square design in which each of the experimental diets will be fed to 2 cows in each period. In the third week of each 3-week period, feed intake, milk composition, ruminal pH and ruminal fermentation profiles will be measured. Feeds will be analyzed for composition, and forages and TCS for in vitro fiber digestibility. The experimental treatments will be statistically evaluated for their effects on total tract fiber digestibility, milk production and composition, feed intake, feed efficiency, effects on ruminal pH and fermentation measures, and behavior. Samples from this study will be evaluated for fiber digestibility in vitro for comparison/correlation with in vivo fiber digestibility values.