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Research article2021Peer reviewed

Postpartum responses of dairy cows supplemented with cereal grain or fibrous by-product concentrate

Guinguina, Abdulai; Krizsan, Sophie Julie; Huhtanen, Pekka


The present study examined the effect of replacing cereal grain with a fibrous by-product concentrate on nutrient intake, milk production traits and fatty acid composition, diet digestibility, feed conversion efficiency (FCE), CH4 and CO2 emissions, and plasma blood parameters of dairy cows in early lactation. Twenty-two Nordic Red cows were randomly assigned to one of two dietary treatments immediately after calving until 18 weeks in lactation. The cereal grain treatment contained 593 g/kg of grass silage, 317 g/kg of cereal grain mixture (barley, oat, and wheat), 79 g/kg of heat-treated rapeseed meal, and 11 g/kg of a mineral mix on a DM basis. A mixture of unmolassed beet pulp, wheat middlings, barley fibre, and wheat bran replaced cereal grains in the by-product treatment. The diets were isocaloric and isonitrogenous and were fed ad libitum as total mixed rations. The by-product diet had a higher fibre content, while starch content was reduced compared with the cereal grain diet. Despite the 12 %-unit difference in dietary starch content, no differences in DMI were observed. Similarly, no differences in body weight and body condition score (BCS) were observed between treatments. Cows fed the fibrous by-product diet had lower apparent total-tract digestibility of DM (683 g/kg), organic matter (700 g/kg), and crude protein (665 g/kg) compared to those fed cereal grain diet (735, 749, and 699 g/kg, respectively), but milk yield and composition, as well as FCE were not affected by treatment. The edible feed conversion ratio in the by-product group was on average 3.7- folds higher than the cereal grain group. Total CH4 emission (g/d) and CH4 yield (g/kg DMI) reduced by 10.3% on average when by-product replaced cereal grains, but CH4 intensity (g CH4/kg ECM) was not significantly influenced by diet. Although the feeding of by-product had no effect on milk fat content, it changed its fatty acid profile by increasing the proportion of some unsaturated fatty acids (ƩC18:1 trans, C18:3 cis-9 cis-12 cis-15, omega-3) in milk fat. Replacing cereal grain with fibrous by-product in the diets of early lactation dairy cows had no effect on their risk of developing metabolic disorders. These findings suggest that cows fed grass silage-based diets can be supplemented with fibrous by-product concentrates without affecting feed efficiency or energy balance status, thereby supporting sustainable food production. However, future works should evaluate the economic aspects of feeding by-product concentrates to determine their practical application for feed manufacturers and farmers.


By-product; Dairy cow; Digestibility; Early lactation; Feed efficiency

Published in

Livestock Science
2021, Volume: 28, article number: 104506

      SLU Authors

    • Guinguina, Abdulai

      • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Krizsan, Sophie Julie

        • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
        • Huhtanen, Pekka

          • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Animal and Dairy Science

        Publication identifier


        Permanent link to this page (URI)