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Coblentz W.K.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Bertram M.G.,University of Wisconsin Marshfield Agricultural Research Station
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2012

During 2009 and 2010, alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) hays from 2 cuttings harvested from the same field site were used to evaluate the effects of a propionic acid-based preservative on the storage characteristics and nutritive value of hays stored as large round bales. A total of 87 large round bales (diameter = 1.5m) were included in the study; of these, 45 bales served as controls, whereas 42 were treated with a commercial propionic acid-based preservative at mean application rates of 0.5±0.14 and 0.7±0.19% of bale weight, expressed on a wet (as is) or dry matter basis, respectively. Initial bale moisture concentrations ranged from 10.2 to 40.4%. Internal bale temperatures were monitored daily during an outdoor storage period, and heating characteristics were summarized for each bale as heating degree days (HDD) >30°C. For acid-treated bales, the regression relationship between HDD and initial bale moisture was best fitted to a quadratic model in which the linear term was dropped to improve fit (Y=2.02x 2 - 401; R 2=0.77); control hays were best fitted to a nonlinear model in which the independent variable was squared [Y=4,112 - (4,549×e -0.000559x*x); R 2=0.77]. Based on these regressions, acid-treated bales accumulated more HDD than control hays when the initial bale moisture was >27.7%; this occurred largely because acid treatment tended to prolong active heating relative to control hays. Linear regressions of recoveries of dry matter on HDD did not differ on the basis of treatment, yielding a common linear relationship of Y=-0.0066x+96.3 (R 2=0.75). Regressions relating changes (post-storage - pre-storage) in concentrations of several nutritional components (neutral detergent fiber, lignin, ash, crude protein, and total digestible nutrients) with HDD for acid-treated hays typically exhibited more inflection points or were higher-ordered polynomial regressions than those of control hays. These more complex responses probably reflected the perturbation of normal heating patterns following acid treatment; however, overall effects on post-storage nutritive value were relatively limited in scope. The potential to improve nutritive value relative to cost for these large round bales was not especially favorable, and hay producers may find that diligence to achieve adequate field desiccation before baling, or use of oxygen-exclusion methods, such as wrapping in plastic, may be better alternatives for preserving moist hays. © 2012 American Dairy Science Association. Source


Coblentz W.K.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Esser N.M.,University of Wisconsin Marshfield Agricultural Research Station | Hoffman P.C.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Akins M.S.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2015

Gravid heifers consuming high-quality forage diets are susceptible to excessive weight gains and overconditioning. One approach for controlling this problem is to dilute diets with low-energy forages, such as straw, that reduce the caloric density and dry matter intake (DMI) of that diet by heifers. These diluting agents are often sortable by dairy heifers, but previous visual evidence has suggested that eastern gamagrass haylage may be a nonsortable alternative. Our objectives were (1) to compare the growth performance of dairy heifers offered a high-quality forage diet (control) with diets containing 1 of 3 diluting agents [eastern gamagrass haylage (EGH), chopped wheat straw (WS), or chopped corn fodder (CF)]; and (2) evaluate sorting behaviors of heifers offered these forage diets. Holstein heifers (n. =. 128) were stratified (32 heifers/block) on the basis of initial body weight (heavy, 560 ± 27.7. kg; medium-heavy, 481 ± 17.7. kg; medium-light, 441 ± 22.0. kg; and light, 399 ± 14.4. kg), and then assigned to 1 of 16 identical research pens (4 pens/block; 8 heifers/pen), where each of the 4 research diets were assigned to 1 pen within each block. Diets were offered in a 118-d feeding trial with heifers crowded to 133% of capacity at the feed bunk. Inclusion of low-energy forages was effective in reducing both diet energy density and DMI. Concentrations of physically effective fiber (. pef) particles did not change during the 24-h period following feeding for either the control or EGH diets; however, this response for pef particles masked the competing (and cancelling) responses for individual large and medium particles, which heifers sorted with discrimination and preference, respectively. Sorting against pef particles was detected for WS, and much more severely for the CF diet. Sorting of forage particles by heifers could not be related to heifer performance. Compared with control (1.16. kg/d), average daily gains (ADG) were reduced by dilution in all cases, but were virtually identical between EGH (0.98. kg/d) and CF (0.97. kg/d), which exhibited no sorting and extensive sorting of pef, respectively. Furthermore, ADG for WS was approximately 0.2. kg/d less than EGH or CF, despite exhibiting sorting characteristics intermediate between EGH and CF. Diets diluted with low-energy forages were formulated to be isonitrogenous and isocaloric; within that context, WS was most effective in reducing DMI and maintaining ADG within typical recommendations for Holstein heifers. © 2015 American Dairy Science Association. Source


Coblentz W.K.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Hoffman P.C.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Esser N.M.,University of Wisconsin Marshfield Agricultural Research Station | Bertram M.G.,University of Wisconsin Arlington Agricultural Research Station
Journal of Animal Science | Year: 2013

Our objectives were to describe and test refined procedures for quantifying excreta produced from whole pens of dairy heifers. Previous research efforts attempting to make whole-pen measurements of excreta output have been complicated by the use of organic bedding, which requires cumbersome analytical techniques to quantify excreta apart from the bedding. Research pens equipped with sand-bedded freestalls offer a unique opportunity for refinement of whole-pen fecal collection methods, primarily because sand-bedded freestall systems contain no organic bedding; therefore, concentrations of ash within the manure, sand, and feces can be used to correct for contamination of manure by sand bedding. This study was conducted on a subset of heifers from a larger production-scale feeding trial evaluating ensiled eastern gamagrass [Tripsacum dactyloides (L.) L.] haylage (EGG) that was incorporated into a corn silage/alfalfa haylage-based blended diet at rates of 0, 9.1, 18.3, or 27.4% of total DM. The diet without EGG also was offered on a limitfed basis. Eighty Holstein dairy heifers were blocked (heavy weight, 424 ± 15.9 kg; light weight, 324 ± 22.4 kg) and then assigned to 10 individual pens containing 8 heifers/pen. One pen per block was assigned to each of the 5 research diets, and whole-pen fecal collections were conducted twice for each pen. Grab fecal samples also were gathered from individual heifers within each pen, and subsequent analysis of these whole-pen composites allowed reasonable estimates of OM and NDF excreta output. Under the conditions of our experimental design, pooled SEM for the excreta DM, OM, NDF, and NDF (ash corrected) output were 0.113, 0.085, 0.093, and 0.075 kg·heifer-1·d-1, respectively. For DM excretion, this represented about one-third of the SEM reported for previous whole-pen collections from bedded-pack housing systems. Subsequent calculations of apparent DM and OM digestibilities indicated that the technique was sensitive, and linear trends (P ≤ 0.027) associated with the inclusion rates of EGG within the diet were detected. This technique allows estimation of apparent diet digestibilities on multiple animals simultaneously, thereby mitigating the need for isolating individual animals to obtain digestibility coefficients. The approach appears viable but requires hand labor for collections of multiple pens and thorough mixing of large volumes of manure as well as analytical corrections for sand ingested by lounging heifers. © 2013 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved. Source


Coblentz W.K.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Esser N.M.,University of Wisconsin Marshfield Agricultural Research Station | Hoffman P.C.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Akins M.S.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2015

Gravid heifers consuming high-quality forage diets are susceptible to excessive weight gains and overconditioning. One approach for controlling this problem is to dilute diets with low-energy forages, such as straw, that reduce the caloric density and dry matter intake (DMI) of that diet by heifers. These diluting agents are often sortable by dairy heifers, but previous visual evidence has suggested that eastern gamagrass haylage may be a nonsortable alternative. Our objectives were (1) to compare the growth performance of dairy heifers offered a high-quality forage diet (control) with diets containing 1 of 3 diluting agents [eastern gamagrass haylage (EGH), chopped wheat straw (WS), or chopped corn fodder (CF)]; and (2) evaluate sorting behaviors of heifers offered these forage diets. Holstein heifers (n = 128) were stratified (32 heifers/block) on the basis of initial body weight (heavy, 560 ± 27.7 kg; medium-heavy, 481 ± 17.7 kg; medium-light, 441 ± 22.0 kg; and light, 399 ± 14.4 kg), and then assigned to 1 of 16 identical research pens (4 pens/block; 8 heifers/pen), where each of the 4 research diets were assigned to 1 pen within each block. Diets were offered in a 118-d feeding trial with heifers crowded to 133% of capacity at the feed bunk. Inclusion of low-energy forages was effective in reducing both diet energy density and DMI. Concentrations of physically effective fiber (pef) particles did not change during the 24-h period following feeding for either the control or EGH diets; however, this response for pef particles masked the competing (and cancelling) responses for individual large and medium particles, which heifers sorted with discrimination and preference, respectively. Sorting against pef particles was detected for WS, and much more severely for the CF diet. Sorting of forage particles by heifers could not be related to heifer performance. Compared with control (1.16 kg/d), average daily gains (ADG) were reduced by dilution in all cases, but were virtually identical between EGH (0.98 kg/d) and CF (0.97 kg/d), which exhibited no sorting and extensive sorting of pef, respectively. Furthermore, ADG for WS was approximately 0.2 kg/d less than EGH or CF, despite exhibiting sorting characteristics intermediate between EGH and CF. Diets diluted with low-energy forages were formulated to be isonitrogenous and isocaloric; within that context, WS was most effective in reducing DMI and maintaining ADG within typical recommendations for Holstein heifers. © 2015 American Dairy Science Association. Source


Coblentz W.K.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Brink G.E.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Hoffman P.C.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Esser N.M.,University of Wisconsin Marshfield Agricultural Research Station | Bertram M.G.,University of Wisconsin Arlington Agricultural Research Station
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2014

Our objective was to assess the pasture productivity and forage characteristics of 2 fall-grown oat (Avena sativa L.) cultivars, specifically for extending the grazing season and reducing reliance on harvested forages by replacement dairy heifers. A total of 160 gravid Holstein heifers (80 heifers/yr) were stratified by weight, and assigned to 1 of 10 identical research pens (8 heifers/pen). Initial body weights were 480. ±. 43.5. kg in 2011 and 509. ±. 39.4. kg in 2012. During both years of the trial, four 1.0-ha pasture replicates were seeded in August with Ogle oat (Schumitsch Seed Inc., Antigo, WI), and 4 separate, but similarly configured, pasture replicates were seeded with Forage Plus oat (Kratz Farms, Slinger, WI). Heifer groups were maintained as units, assigned to specific pastures, and then allowed to graze fall-oat pastures for 6. h daily before returning to the barn, where they were offered a forage-based basal total mixed ration. Two heifer groups were retained in confinement (without grazing) as controls and offered the identical total mixed ration as pasture groups. During 2011, available forage mass increased with strong linear and quadratic effects for both cultivars, peaking at almost 9. Mg/ha on October 31. In contrast, forage mass was not affected by evaluation date in 2012, remaining ≤2,639. kg/ha across all dates because of droughty climatic conditions. During 2012, Ogle exhibited greater forage mass than Forage Plus across all sampling dates (2,678 vs. 1,856. kg/ha), largely because of its more rapid maturation rate and greater canopy height. Estimates of energy density for oat forage ranged from 59.6 to 69.1% during 2011, and ranged narrowly from 68.4 to 70.4% during 2012. For 2011, responses for both cultivars had strong quadratic character, in which the most energy-dense forages occurred in mid November, largely due to accumulation of water-soluble carbohydrates that reached maximum concentrations of 18.2 and 15.1% for Forage Plus and Ogle, respectively. Across the 2-yr trial, average daily gain for grazing heifer groups tended to be greater than heifers remaining in confinement (0.85 vs. 0.74. kg/d), but both management strategies produced weight gains within reasonable proximity to normal targets for heifers in this weight range. Fall-grown oat should be managed as stockpiled forage for deferred grazing, and good utilization of fall-oat forage can be accomplished by a one-time removal of standing forage, facilitated by a single lead wire advanced daily to prevent waste. © 2014 American Dairy Science Association. Source

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