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Doctoral thesis, 2003

Milk production from leguminous forage, roots and potatoes

Eriksson, Torsten


The aim of the present work was to investigate the effects of replacing grain concentrates with roots and potatoes in dairy cow diets based upon large amounts of grass/alfalfa silage. The emphasis was on the possible improvement of microbial protein synthesis and nitrogen balance. Alfalfa dominated silage has a large excess of ruminally degradable protein that must be balanced with feed carbohydrates to avoid urinary nitrogen losses. The effects on ruminal fermentation pattern, intake and production were also studied. The thesis is based on two batch culture in vitro experiments and three animal experiments. The in vitro experiments compared fodder beets, barley/oats and raw, boiled or frozen potatoes as supplements to a silage diet incubated with rumen fluid from cows fed different diets. With respect to amounts fermented during 5 h incubation, supplements were ranked (P < 0.05) fodder beets = boiled potatoes > barley/oats > raw potatoes = frozen potatoes = unsupplemented silage. Substrates were numerically ranked in the same order with respect to microbial protein production, but due to larger variation they could only be divided into two groups, where fodder beets, boiled potatoes and barley/oats gave microbial yields not different from each other, but higher than for raw potatoes, frozen potatoes or unsupplemented silage. Butyrate proportion was little affected by incubation substrate but fodder beets fed to rumen fluid donor cows increased butyrate molar proportion in vitro from 10.7 to 13.0%. A change-over design experiment compared barley supplementation with fodder beet and potato supplementation of a silage diet for lactating cows. The fodder beet/potato diet lowered ad libitum silage intake by 0.9 kg DM/d and milk yield decreased correspondingly by 1.7 to 2.3 kg/d. Microbial protein production and nitrogen balance were not increased by the fodder beet supplementation, but a part of N excretion was redirected from urine to feces. Fodder beets tended to decrease the ratio lipogenic/glucogenic VFA, by increasing propionate and butyrate at the expense of acetate. In an intake experiment, most of the cows consumed the maximum allowance of fodder beets (4.6 kg DM/d) while there was a huge variation in the potato intake. A more synchronous feeding of degradable protein and readily available carbohydrates lowered the urinary nitrogen loss and increased allantoin excretion numerically but not significantly. A close correlation (R2 = 0.94) was found between total urinary N excretion and the ratio urea/creatinine in urine, which implies that spot sampling of urine may be a way to facilitate N balance measurements in lactating cows. In conclusion, a full replacement of grain by roots and potatoes can be done and the effects will be lowered urinary N losses but also a reduction in silage consumption and hence also milk production.


dairy cow; rumen; fodder beets; potatoes; N efficiency; microbial protein; purines; allantoin; creatinine; urea; in vitro technique

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae. Agraria
2003, number: 422
ISBN: 91-576-6454-4
Publisher: Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

URI (permanent link to this page)