Article| Volume 83, ISSUE 12, P2926-2940, December 2000

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Effects of Genetic Merit and Varying Dietary Protein Degradability on Lactating Dairy Cows

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      Eighty two multiparous Holstein cows were blocked by genetic merit (high vs. low) and assigned to one of two treatments [high rumen-undegradable protein (RUP): rumen-degradable protein (RDP) vs. low RUP: RDP] from d 21 before to d 150 after calving to study the effects of these treatments on production and reproductive performance. Diets were isonitrogenous (dry cow 10.5% crude protein; lactating cow 19.3%), isoenergetic (dry cow 10.0 MJ of metabolizable energy (ME); lactating cow 10.9 MJ of ME) and fed as total mixed rations. Feeding more RUP significantly increased dry matter intake and milk yield, reduced body tissue mobilization, and lowered concentrations of serum nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) and plasma urea. Expression of estrus at first ovulation was improved, first service conception rate was higher, and calving to conception interval was shorter for the high RUP group. Cows of high genetic merit produced more milk, mobilized more body tissue, and had higher concentrations of plasma growth hormone. The dry matter intake and concentrations of blood metabolites did not significantly differ with genetic merit. Expression of estrus at first ovulation was significantly lower for cows of high genetic merit. Serum NEFA concentrations were significantly higher, and estrus was not observed at first ovulation for cows of higher genetic merit fed the low RUP diet. The interaction between dietary RUP and genetic merit was not significant for other measures of performance or fertility. Feeding a low RUP: high RDP diet had negative effects on some aspects of production and reproductive performance. The effects of diet on NEFA concentrations and estrus display were greater in cows of high genetic merit, indicating that potential interactions should be evaluated in future reproductive studies involving protein and fertility.

      Key words

      Abbreviation key:

      ABV (Australian breeding value), GGT (glutaryl transferase), GH (growth hormone), HD (high degradable), LD (low degradability), ME (metabolizable energy), MJME (MJ of ME), NEB (negative energy balance), NIRS (near infrared spectrophotometry), NSB (nonspecific binding), PEG (polyethylene glycol), Tris (tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane)


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