A daily pattern of feed intake, milk synthesis, and plasma metabolites and hormones occurs in dairy cows fed a total mixed ration once or twice a day. The objective of this study was to determine if feeding multiple rations within a day, complementing these rhythms, would improve milk production. Twelve Holstein cows were used in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square design with 21-d periods. Cows were housed in tie stalls with feed tubs, and feed weight was recorded every 10 s for observation of feeding behavior. Rations were a low fiber and high fermentable starch ration [LFHS; 27.4% neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and 31.7% starch based on 55.7% corn silage and 14.1% steam-flaked corn], a high fiber and low fermentable starch ration (HFLS; 31.7% NDF and 22.3% starch based on 44% corn silage, 26.3% alfalfa haylage, and no steam-flaked corn), and a total mixed ration that was a 1:3 ratio of LFHS and HFLS (30.7% NDF, 24.5% starch). The control treatment (CON) cows were fed the total mixed ration at 0700 h, the high/low treatment (HL) fed HFLS ration at 0700 h and LFHS ration at 2200 h, and the low/high (LH) treatment fed LFHS ration at 0700 h and HFLS ration at 1100 h (LFHS and HFLS rations fed at a 1:3 ratio). No effect was found of treatment on daily milk, but LH decreased milk fat concentration and yield compared with HL (0.2 percentage units and 0.24 kg, respectively). Daily dry matter and NDF intake and total-tract digestibility did not differ between treatments. The HL treatment reduced intake at the morning-conditioned meal after feeding and reduced intake before the evening feeding. A treatment by time of day interaction was found for fecal NDF and indigestible NDF concentration, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), plasma insulin, and fatty acid concentration, and body temperature. The CON and LH treatments increased the daily amplitude of fecal NDF by 1.0 and 1.1 percentage units compared with HL. Plasma insulin was higher in HL than CON at 0100 and 0400 h, but lower at 1300 and 1900 h. Plasma fatty acids were higher for CON than HL at 0700 h and HL was lower than LH at 0400 and 1900 h. Plasma BUN was higher for HL than control at 0100 h, but lower at 1000 h. Body temperature in CON and HL treatments followed a similar diurnal pattern, whereas body temperature for LH was lower than that of HL treatment at 1300 and 2300 h. No daily rhythm was found of fecal indigestible NDF concentration, plasma glucose, or fatty acids detected in the HL treatment, and the amplitude of plasma insulin and BUN was lower for HL compared with CON (70 and 60% decrease, respectively). In conclusion, feeding 2 rations that differ in fiber and fermentable starch modifies diurnal rhythms in dairy cows. Furthermore, feeding a high fiber and low fermentable starch ration during the high intake period of the day may stabilize nutrient absorption across the day.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology