Ration sorting is thought to allow cows to eat different rations throughout the day, causing fluctuations in rumen fermentation patterns that can be detrimental to production and possibly animal health. The objective of this experiment was to study the effects of varying total mixed ration (TMR) particle size on sorting behavior of lactating dairy cows and to evaluate effects on chewing behavior, milk yield, milk components, and rumen fermentation. Eight multiparous, Holstein cows (90±32 d in milk; 4 rumen cannulated) were randomly assigned to replicated 4×4 Latin squares. Cows were fed diets that varied in the chop length of dry grass hay. The diet consisted of 29.4% corn silage, 22.9% ground corn, 17.6% alfalfa haylage, and 11.8% dry grass hay on a dry matter basis. The percentage of hay particles >26.9mm was 4.2, 34.1, 60.4, and 77.6% for the short (S), medium (M), long (L), and extra long (XL) hays, respectively. This resulted in the TMR of each diet having 1.5 (S), 6.5 (M), 8.6 (L), and 11.7% (XL) of particles >26.9mm. Daily ruminating time [19.3, 19.2, 22.4, and 21.3 min/kg of dry matter intake (DMI) for S, M, L, and XL] and eating time (13.9, 14.6, 17.2, and 16.1 min/kg of DMI for S, M, L, and XL) increased linearly as TMR particle size increased. Daily DMI decreased linearly as TMR particle size increased and was 26.9 (S), 27.0 (M), 24.1 (L), and 25.1 (XL) kg/d. No differences were found in rumen volatile fatty acids and NH3, and only slight changes were found in rumen pH. Milk production and milk components were also similar among diets. Despite large differences in particle size among these diets and certain chewing and ruminating differences, no changes in rumen fermentation, milk production, or milk components were found in this study.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology