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Managing body energy balance in high yielding dairy cows - LS3605

This research will evaluate practical and novel dietary approaches for reducing body energy loss in early lactation dairy cows of high milk yield potential, thereby improving reproductive and economic efficiency of the dairy enterprise and cow welfare, with minimal reductions in total lactation yield of milk and milk solids. The specific approaches explored will include the delayed or ‘stair step’ supplementation of protein and fat in early lactation, the objective being to shift milk energy output from early to post-peak lactation, thereby sparing body energy loss and improving reproductive efficiency. In addition, we will explore the use of a potent ‘neutraceutical’ inhibitor of milk fat synthesis, namely trans-10 conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), on energy metabolism of cows in early and at peak lactation. A commercial source of CLA will be fed in a rumen-protected form during early lactation with the objective of limiting milk energy output and body energy loss. The effects of these strategies on lactational and reproductive performance will be explored using lactation trials in concert with respiration calorimetry trials to directly measure digestive responses and effects on body tissue energy balance. This project will be co-funded by BOCM Pauls, whose contributions will include financial assistance, the organization and support of on-farm trials and technology transfer in the final year of the project. This research will address a number of DEFRA priorities, including the improvement of reproductive function and well being of the dairy herd and reductions in environmental nitrogen outputs. In addition, the reduction of supplement usage and improvements in reproductive efficiency and animal well being will have economic benefits for dairy producers.
Objective 1. Determine effects of stair-step protein and fat supplementation on productive response, body condition and reproduction in lactating dairy cattle over 2 lactations.

Objective 2. Determine effects of rumen-protected CLA on energy metabolism in lactating dairy cows.

Objective 3. Determine effects of stair-step protein or fat supplementation on digestion and energy metabolism in lactating dairy cattle.

Objective 4. Validation of stair-step protein and fat supplementation using on-farm studies and subsequent technology transfer.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Managing body energy balance in high yielding dairy cows   (561k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2005

Cost: £368,584
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Reading
Climate Change              
Livestock Farming              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study