The quality of forages fed in a high-forage ration at South Dakota State University was insufficient to support milk production in mid- to late-lactation cows.

The forages consisted of 60% first-cutting alfalfa haylage and 40% corn silage blended together and fed as 60% or 80% of the ration dry matter. The digestibility of the alfalfa haylage dry matter and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) was above average, but the corn silage quality was average.

Both rations were similar in crude protein (16.4%), starch (20.1%), acid detergent fiber (21.8%) and NDF (34.1%). Holsteins milked three times a day were fed either the low- or high-forage diet for four weeks, preceded by a one-week period when both groups received the low-forage diet.

Cows fed the high-forage ration produced 53 lbs of milk per day vs. 62 lbs for the low-forage group. Milkfat, milk protein and other components were similar for cows fed the two rations, the researchers report.

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