Southeastern pasture-based dairy systems: housing, posilac, and supplemental silage effects on cow performance

J H Fike, C R Staples, L E Sollenberger, J E Moore, H H Head
Journal of Dairy Science 2002, 85 (4): 866-78
This experiment tested performance and physiological responses to evaporative cooling, bovine somatotropin (bST), and supplemental silage of lactating cows grazing bermudagrass (Tifton 85; Cynodon dactylon x C. nlemfuensis cv.) pastures. Multiparous (n = 32) cows (196 d in milk) were assigned one of five treatments arranged in two replicates. Treatments were 1) cows maintained continuously on pasture with access to shade, 2) treatment 1 + bST, 3) night housing on pasture, then free-stall housing with fans and misters from 0730 to 1630 h, 4) treatment 3 + bST, and 5) treatment 4 + corn silage fed at 0.5% of body weight (dry matter basis) in the barn. A grain supplement was fed at a rate of 0.5 kg/kg of milk produced. Time spent grazing ranged from 4 to 7.2 h/d, with cows fed corn silage spending the least amount of time. Cows given bST grazed 45 min/d longer than controls, but intake of bermudagrass was unchanged. Intake of bermudagrass ranged from 7.4 to 9.5 kg/d of organic matter, with the lowest intake by cows fed corn silage. With the exception of cows fed corn silage, cows kept in a cooling barn during the day ate equivalent amounts of pasture as those given unlimited access to pasture. Production of 4% fat-corrected milk was greater by cows injected with bST (17.7 vs. 15.8 kg/d) compared with controls and tended to be greater for cows given daytime cooling compared with cows on pasture continuously (17.2 vs. 16.3 kg/d). Cows provided evaporative cooling did not lose weight compared with continually pastured cows (6.3 vs. -10.9 kg/24 d). Cows injected with bST compared with controls maintained their body weight better (2.5 vs. -7.1 kg/24 d). Cows given bST had increased concentration of plasma insulin-like growth factor-I (142 vs. 89 ng/ml), insulin (0.60 vs. 0.56 ng/ml), and nonesterified fatty acids (318 vs. 239 mEq/L). Cows given bST and those continually on pasture had greater diurnal body temperatures. Use of barn cooling systems and bST treatments as management tools provided limited improvement in performance of midlactation cows managed in pasture-based systems.


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