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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Miuda (Nopalea cochenillifera (L.) Salm-Dyck)-The Best Forage Cactus Genotype for Feeding Lactating Dairy Cows in Semiarid Regions

Rocha Filho, Rubem R.; Santos, Djalma C.; Veras, Antonia S. C.; Siqueira, Michelle C. B.; Monteiro, Carolina C. F.; Mora-Luna, Robert E.; Farias, Lucas R.; Santos, Viviany L. F.; Chagas, Juana C.; Ferreira, Marcelo A.;


Simple Summary The usage of forage cactus is essential for the maintenance of livestock activity in semiarid regions as an alternative to conventional crops. Cactaceae have adaptive characteristics that ensure their development progress under drought conditions. Four genotypes of forage cactus (Gigante, Miuda, IPA Sertania, and Orelha de Elefante Mexicana) were fed to lactating dairy cows and the diets were then evaluated based on animal performance, milk fatty acid profile, and microbial protein synthesis. Miuda forage cactus led to a higher nutrient intake and milk yield, as well as greater microbial protein synthesis. Higher saturated fatty acids were observed when the Gigante and IPA Sertania forage cactus genotypes were fed to dairy cows. Orelha de Elefante Mexicana forage cactus caused lower milk yield along with protein yields and content; however, it improved the milk fatty acid profile by promoting a higher ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids and desirable fatty acids. It is concluded that the Miuda forage cactus is the genotype most suitable for the diets of lactating dairy cows. This study aimed to investigate the effects on nutrient intake and digestibility, milk yield (MY) and composition, milk fatty acids profile, and microbial protein synthesis caused by feeding lactating dairy cows four different forage cactus genotypes. Eight Girolando cows (5/8 Holstein x 3/8 Gyr), weighing 490 +/- 69.0 kg (means +/- standard deviation), and producing 15.5 +/- 1.0 kg/d of milk during pretrial were distributed to two contemporaneous 4 x 4 Latin squares. The cows were fed a total mixed ration composed of sorghum silage (385 g/kg of dry matter (DM)), concentrated mix (175 g/kg DM), and forage cactus (440 g/kg DM). The experimental treatments consisted of different cactus genotypes, such as Gigante cactus (GC), Miuda cactus (MC), IPA Sertania cactus (SC), and Orelha de Elefante Mexicana cactus (OEMC). The feeding of MC provided a higher intake of DM, organic matter (OM), and total digestible nutrients, as well as higher MY, energy-corrected milk, and microbial protein synthesis in comparison with those resulting from the other genotypes tested. The GC promoted lower DM and OM, and the apparent digestibility of neutral detergent fiber. The cows fed with OEMC showed lower MY and milk protein yield and content, and higher unsaturated over saturated fatty acid ratio in milk. Miuda forage cactus increased nutrient intake, digestibility of DM and OM, and microbial synthesis without impairing the milk fatty acid profile.


Cactaceae; dairy cattle; milk yield; Nopalea; Opuntia; semiarid

Published in


2021, volume: 11, number: 6, article number: 1774
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Rocha Filho, Rubem R.
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (UFRPE)
Santos, Djalma C.
Agronomic Institute of Pernambuco
Veras, Antonia S. C.
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (UFRPE)
Siqueira, Michelle C. B.
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (UFRPE)
Monteiro, Carolina C. F.
Alagoas State University
Mora-Luna, Robert E.
Táchira National Experimental University
Farias, Lucas R.
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (UFRPE)
Santos, Viviany L. F.
Federal University of Piauí
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden
Ferreira, Marcelo A.
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (UFRPE)

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

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