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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

The effect of N-fertilisation rate or inclusion of red clover to timothy leys on fatty acid composition in milk of dairy cows fed a commercial silage: concentrate ratio

Arvidsson, Katarina; Gustavsson, Anne-Maj; Fievez, V; Martinsson, Kjell


The aim of this experiment was to, under typical Swedish production conditions, evaluate the effects of grass silages subjected to different N-fertilisation regimes fed to dairy cows on the fatty acid (FA) composition of their milk, and to compare the grass silages in this respect to red clover-dominated silage. Grass silages made from first year Phleum pratense L. leys subjected to three N-fertilisation regimes (30, 90 and 120 kg N/ha, designated G-30, G-90 and G-120, respectively) and a mixed red clover grass silage (Trifolium pratense L. and P. pratense L; 60/40 on dry matter (DM) basis, designated RC G) were produced. The experiment was conducted as a change-over design, including 24 primiparous and multiparous dairy cows of the Swedish Red breed, each of which was allocated to three of the four diets. The cows were offered 11 kg DM of silage and 7 kg concentrates. The silages had similar DM and energy concentrations. The CP concentration increased with increase in N-fertilisation level. There was a linear increase in DM intake of the different silages with increased N fertilisation. There were also differences in concentrations of both individual and total FAs amongst silages. The daily milk production (kg/day) did not significantly differ between treatments, but G-30 silage resulted in higher concentrations of 18:2n-6 in the milk compared with the other two grass silages. The highest concentrations of 18:3n-3 and cis-9, trans-11 18:2 were found in milk from cows offered the RC G silage. The G-30 diet resulted in higher concentration of 18:2n-6 and the same concentration of 18:3n-3 in the milk as the other grass silages, despite lower intake levels of these FAs. The apparent recoveries of 18:3n-3 from feed to milk were 5.74%, 4.27%, 4.10% and 5.31% for G-30, G-90, G-120 and RC G, respectively. A higher recovery when red clover is included in the diet confirms previous reports. The higher apparent recovery of 18:3n-3 on the G-30 treatment may be related to the lower silage DM intake, which led to a higher relative proportion of ingested FAs originating from concentrates compared with the G-90 and G-120 diets. With the rates and types of concentrates used in this study, the achieved differences in FA composition among the silages were not enough to influence the concentrations of unsaturated FAs in milk.


CP; forage; fatty acid concentration; milk production; grass

Published in

2012, Volume: 6, number: 7, pages: 1178-1186

    SLU Authors

      • Gustavsson, Anne-Maj

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

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

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Agricultural Science
        Food Science
        Veterinary Science
        Animal and Dairy Science

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