The objective of this experiment was to determine the effects of feeding a high-rumen-degradable protein (RDP) diet when dietary fiber content is manipulated within differing forage-to-concentrate ratio (F:C) on nutrient utilization of precision-fed dairy heifers. Six cannulated Holstein heifers (486.98 ± 15.07 kg of body weight) were randomly assigned to 2 F:C, low- (45% forage; LF) and high-forage (90% forage; HF) diets and to a fiber proportion sequence [33% grass hay and wheat straw (HS), 67% corn silage (CS; low fiber); 50% HS, 50% CS (medium fiber); and 67% HS, 33% CS (high fiber)] within forage proportion administered according to a split-plot, 3 × 3 Latin square design (16-d periods). Heifers fed LF had greater apparent total-tract organic matter digestibility coefficients (dC), neutral detergent fiber, and cellulose than those fed LC diets. Substituting CS with HS resulted in a linear reduction in dry matter, organic matter, and cellulose dC. Nitrogen dC was not different between F:C or with increasing proportions of HS in diets, but N retention tended to decrease linearly as HS was increased in the diets. Predicted microbial protein flow to the duodenum decreased linearly with HS addition and protozoa numbers HS interacted linearly, exhibiting a decrease as HS increased for LF, whereas no effects were observed for HF. Blood urea N increased linearly as HS was incorporated. The LF-fed heifers had a greater ruminal volatile fatty acids concentration. We noted a tendency for a greater dry matter, and a significantly higher liquid fraction turnover rate for HF diets. There was a linear numerical increase in the liquid and solid fraction turnover rate as fiber was added to the diets. Rumen fermentation parameters and fractional passages (solid and liquid) rates support the reduction in dC, N retention, and microbial protein synthesis observed as more dietary fiber is added to the rations of dairy heifers precision-fed a constant proportion of rumen-degradable protein.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology