Cow

Diets supplemented with molasses lowers the risk of sub-clinical ruminal acidosis

Maria Villagrasa & Fernando Diaz

One strategy to reduce the likelihood of ruminal acidosis is to replace starch with sugars. Some experiments have suggested that molasses can increase feed intake and milk production, and that replacing starch with sugars in the cow’s diet does not increase the risk of ruminal acidosis.

Molasses has approximately 75% dry matter (DM) of which 80% are sugars. This makes it very palatable and a good source of energy for cattle for cattle. They degrade easily in the rumen, resulting in a typical butyric acid fermentation.

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Factory

Adding molasses to dry cow diets improves intake and health of dairy cows

Alvaro Garcia

The transition period of dairy cows is characterized by changes in behavior, hormonal patterns, and increased metabolic and nutrient demands. Cows in late gestation (2-3 weeks to calving) undergo changes in metabolism and a mismatch between dry matter intake/nutrient uptake and their requirements, which prompts the mobilization of body stores, mainly fat from adipose tissue and glycogen from the liver.

These changes also predispose to metabolic disorders such as ketosis, acidosis, and displaced abomasum. Research has shown that feeding lower dietary energy including more fiber in the diet, promotes intake after calving, and results in less body fat mobilization. It has also been suggested that moderate energy intake pre-calving may positively impact cows’ fertility.

Which is the most suitable diet for dry cows?

Today’s suggestions are to feed dry cows low energy diets [1.30 to 1.39 Mcal of net energy for lactation (NEL)/kg of dry matter (DM)] during the entire dry period. One limitation is that high straw diets result in rumen filling at a stage of the pregnancy where the fetus is already occupying more space, and that they may also increase the risk of feed sorting.

Recent research however has also suggested that high fiber:starch ratios inhibit the expression of the genes regulating rumen papillae growth. The challenge is to feed fibrous roughages while promoting the development of an adequate rumen papillae surface needed to absorb the sudden increase in volatile fatty-acids resulting from the highly digestible feeds available in early lactation.

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Effects of wheat grain or molasses supplementation on methane production

Alvaro Garcia

Current concerns about greenhouse gas production by ruminants have researchers looking for different feeding strategies. Methane of enteric origin has been considered a significant contributor to this problem. Dietary carbohydrate composition influences rumen fermentation pattern and methane production. Starch and sugars are easily fermentable in the rumen, but with different patterns, volatile fatty acids profiles, and in consequence, methane production.

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