Two experiments (Exp.) were conducted to study effects of feeding long or short corn silage total mixed rations (TMR) on rumen pH, feed preference, and dairy cow performance and to determine the rate of recovery from grain-induced subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA). Both experiments utilized a crossover design with 12 lactating, multiparous, Holstein cows each (including 4 ruminally cannulated cows) and consisted of two 26-d periods. Each period consisted of 12. d of adaptation followed by 14. d of data collection. Each period was divided into 4 phases: adaptation, d 1 to 12; baseline, d 13 to 14; challenge, d 15 to 19; and recovery, d 20 to 26. Treatments in Exp. 1 were TMR based on corn silage with long (L) or short (ST) particle size in a 65:35 forage-to-concentrate (F:C) diet. Treatments in Exp. 2 were TMR based on corn silage with short (SH) or long (LH) particle size in a 65:35 F:C diet with 3.3% (DM basis) orchardgrass hay offered as a supplement to the diet. In both experiments, during the challenge phase cows received a 50:50 F:C diet to initiate SARA. Animals were housed individually, milked twice per day, and fed once per day for 10% refusal rate on an as-fed basis. Data were analyzed using PROC MIXED of SAS. Feeding L and LH diets increased acetate-to-propionate ratio in the rumen, which resulted in the maintenance of a ratio >2 from the start of the SARA challenge through recovery. In Exp. 1, feeding long corn silage TMR resulted in lower milk fat concentration on the third day of the challenge, whereas cows fed short corn silage TMR had lower milk fat concentration on the final day of the challenge compared with d 13. Providing supplemental hay to cows fed TMR based on long or short corn silage in Exp. 2 prevented acidosis when cows were challenged with a high-grain diet. Milk fat concentrations substantially decreased during the challenge phase in both diets supplemented with hay, but feeding LH did not lower milk fat concentrations until d 20 compared with d 17 for cows fed SH. Under the conditions of these experiments, cows selected for shorter particles compared with longer particles, despite the rumen challenge. However, when feeding a 50:50 F:C diet, feeding long corn silage TMR or supplementing the diet with grass hay increased rumen pH, acetate-to-propionate ratio in the rumen, and rate of recovery from SARA.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology