Total mixed rations (TMR) are commonly fed to dairy cows with a goal of reducing ruminal acidosis, but the daily pattern of feed intake has major implication for rumen fermentation and postabsorptive physiology. Generally there is low feed intake during the overnight period and high intake after feeding and during the afternoon. The objective of this study was to determine if feeding a partial mixed ration (PMR) plus a high starch top-dress before feeding of the PMR would improve production and modify key daily rhythms. The top-dress was fed before feeding as ruminal starch is at a nadir and amylolytic capacity is expected to be low. Ten Holstein cows were used in a crossover design with 14-d periods. Cows were housed in tie stalls with feed tubs and feed weight was recorded every 10 s for observation of feeding behavior. Treatments were a control TMR fed once per day at 0900 h or a partial mixed ration plus a top-dress (PMR+TD). The top-dress was fed at 9.5% of DMI offered at 0800 h and contained steamflaked corn, canola meal, and nonprotein nitrogen. No interaction was observed between treatment and milking time. Milk yield tended to be decreased 1.1 kg and milk fat yield was decreased 70 g/d by PMR+TD. Milk fat preformed fatty acids were decreased and no effect was observed of treatment on trans-10 C18:1 or other indicators of biohydrogenation-induced milk fat depression. No effect was observed of treatment on meal parameters including meal size and number. The PMR+TD increased total-tract neutral detergent fiber (NDF) digestibility by 1.2 percentage points. Treatment changed the daily pattern of fecal NDF and indigestible NDF, indicating changes in rumen function over the day. No effect was observed on plasma glucose, but the amplitude of the daily rhythm of insulin was increased by PMR+TD. The PMR+TD also increased plasma nonesterified fatty acids and decreased blood urea nitrogen across the day. Core body temperature is entrained by the central biological clock and its phase was advanced 42 min and its amplitude slightly increased by PMR+TD. In conclusion, the top-dress appears to have modified the central circadian rhythm and plasma insulin and blood urea nitrogen. This demonstrates that timing of feeding can be used to manage daily rhythms of the dairy cow, although the optimal timing requires further investigation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology