The objective of this study was to investigate effects of offering dry hay of different quality and length on rumen pH and feed preference in lactating dairy cows. Eight rumen-cannulated Holstein cows (104. ±. 34 d in milk, body weight of 601. ±. 116. kg, and parity of 2.38. ±. 1.69; mean ± standard deviation) were used in a replicated 4. ×. 4 Latin square design. Each period encompassed 21 d divided into 5 phases: adaptation (d 1 to 14), with ad libitum total mixed ration (TMR); baseline (d 15 to 17), with ad libitum TMR; restricted feeding (d 18), with cows fed for 75% of baseline dry matter intake; challenge (d 19), with 4. kg (as-fed) of finely ground wheat mixed into the digesta of each cow via rumen cannula before feeding; and recovery (d 20 to 21), with ad libitum TMR. Cows were assigned to squares by parity and randomly assigned to treatments. Treatments were 5.2% low-quality hay TMR (CL), 5.2% high-quality hay TMR (CH; both hays were chopped and included in TMR), TMR with 5.2% supplemental long low-quality hay (TMR+L), and TMR with 5.2% supplemental long high-quality hay (TMR+H; both hays were unprocessed and fed separate from TMR).Low-quality hay contained 8.6% crude protein and 67.1% neutral detergent fiber, whereas high-quality hay contained 14.4% crude protein and 56.2% neutral detergent fiber. Animals were housed individually, milked twice per day, and fed once per day for 10% refusal rate. Data were analyzed using PROC MIXED of SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). Subacute ruminal acidosis challenge decreased weighted average rumen pH from 5.72 to 5.51. Cows fed TMR+L had higher rumen pH compared with CL and TMR+H on d 19. During d 20, cows fed chopped hay had higher rumen pH than cows fed supplemental long hay. Cows fed supplemental long hay had greater dry matter intake during baseline and challenge days compared with when hay was chopped and included in the TMR. Minimal differences among diets were found for TMR particle size selection during the challenge day; however, cows had a greater preference for high-quality long hay during recovery days. Milk production averaged 38.3. kg/d and did not differ among treatments. Fat, protein, and lactose yields were also not different among treatments. Milk fatty acid profile was altered by treatment. The TMR+L and CH treatments increased production of cis-9,. trans-11 conjugated linoleic acid. Results of this study indicate that feeding TMR plus supplemental long hay can maintain dry matter intake during incidents of and recovery from periods of low ruminal pH.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology