What's new in ruminant feeds, feeding?

Novel protein sources tested for suitability in diets for dairy cattle.

During the Ruminant Nutrition: Foods & Feeding session at the 2016 Joint Annual Meeting this week, discussion focused on canola meal, dried distillers grains, okara meal and field peas.

Representing the University of Nevada, Marostegan de Paula and colleagues tested the effects of replacing soybean meal with canola meal or treated canola meal on ruminal digestion and omasal nutrient flow in lactating dairy cows. They found that the canola diets increased nitrogen intake and the rumen degradable protein supply. Based on their results, they concluded that canola meal is a viable replacement for soybean meal in a lactating dairy cow diet.

Researchers from South Dakota State University evaluated the growth performance of dairy heifers that were limit-fed dried distillers grains to 0.8% of the heifers' bodyweight and had ad libitum forage. The researchers found that there was no difference in feed efficiency and digestibility compared with heifers on a corn and soybean control diet. Therefore, they concluded that limit-feeding dried distillers grains is a viable option for heifers.

Interesting research was presented on okara meal from the Instituto Federal do Norte de Minas Gerais in Brazil and the University of New Hampshire. Okara meal is a byproduct of soy milk production. It is commonly made from organic soybeans, so it may be used by organic herds. The crude protein content of okara meal was reported to average between 25.5% and 37.5%.

Researchers hypothesized that okara meal can completely replace soybean meal in early- to mid-lactation dairy cows. They compared soybean meal to okara meal and found no difference in intake. However, milk protein was found to be lower in the okara meal treatment. The researchers recommended feeding okara for up to 8% of soybean meal on a dry matter basis.

Field peas were the most interesting feed discussed in the session. Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln evaluated the possibility of using field peas to supplement grazing beef cattle. Using three different diets — corn, field peas and a control (no supplement) — the researchers found that cattle had higher average daily gain on the corn diet than on the field peas, but average daily gain was higher for the field pea diet than the control. The researchers concluded that field peas could be a viable option to supplement grazing beef cattle.

Michele Jones is originally from Indianapolis, Ind. She is currently a masters student at the University of Kentucky, studying precision dairy technology and nutrition.

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