Research-Article| Volume 68, ISSUE 7, P1732-1737, July 1985

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Effects of Adding Beta-Carotene to Rations of Lactating Cows Consuming Different Forages1,2

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      Thirty-six Holstein cows fed a corn silage-based ration and 34 fed an alfalfagrass silage-based ration were assigned according to calving date to receive either 300 mg/head per day of synthetic betacarotene in a gelatin capsule or an empty gelatin capsule daily for the first 100 days postpartum. Supplemental vitamin A was provided at 3919 IU/kg of ration dry matter. Cervix diameters for cows supplemented with betacarotene were smaller at 21 days and 28 days postpartum. Days from parturition to first observed estrus were less when betacarotene was added and less when corn silage was fed. Means of other reproductive traits were more favorable for cows treated with beta-carotene (fewer services per conception and shorter intervals between parturition and conception). Milk progesterone at 21 and 28 days postpartum was not affected by either roughage or beta-carotene treatment. Milk from cows receiving alfalfa-grass silage contained lower somatic cell concentrations than that produced by cows fed corn silage. Milk somatic cell concentrations were lower in both roughage treatment groups for cows supplemented with beta-carotene. No effects of roughage or beta-carotene on milk production or milk fat percentages were significant.


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