Comparison of microalgae and rapeseed meal as supplementary protein in the grass silage based nutrition of dairy cows

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Two experiments were conducted to evaluate microalgae as a protein supplement in the nutrition of lactating dairy cows in relation to unsupplemented and rapeseed meal supplemented diets. In both experiments multiparous Finnish Ayrshire cows were fed separately fixed amount of cereal-sugar beet pulp based concentrate (11 kg/d in Exp. 1 and 12 kg/d in Exp. 2), and grass silage ad libitum. In Exp. 1, six cows (212 days in milk; DIM) were used in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square. Diets were supplemented isonitrogenously with rapeseed meal (pelleted rapeseed supplement, RSS), mixture of Spirulina platensis and Chlorella vulgaris microalgae (1:1 on dry matter (DM) basis; ALG) or a mixture of RSS and ALG (1:1 on crude protein (CP) basis; RSS-ALG). In Exp. 2, four intact cows and four rumen cannulated cows (190 DIM) were used in a replicated 4 × 4 Latin square. Treatments consisted of basal diet without protein supplement (NEG) or supplemented similarly as in Exp. 1 with the exception of RSS-ALG and ALG containing only S. platensis. Protein supplementation increased fibre and N digestibility but did not affect dry matter intake (DMI) or milk yield. The substitution of rapeseed by microalgae did not affect total DMI or milk yield in neither of the experiments, but changed the quality of DMI in Exp.2 by linearly decreasing concentrate:forage ratio of the diet due to poorer palatability of microalgae. The efficiency of N utilisation (NUE) in milk production varied from moderate (Exp. 1) to high (Exp. 2), and in Exp. 2 was decreased by both protein supplementation and microalgae inclusion in the diet. Protein supplementation or microalgae inclusion in the diet did not affect ruminal pH or major volatile fatty acids in Exp. 2, but both increased ruminal NH3-N concentration. There was likely a shortage of N for rumen microbes on NEG in Exp. 2 as indicated by low milk urea N and increased microbial N flow on protein supplemented diets. In both experiments, only minor differences were observed in plasma metabolites when microalgae substituted rapeseed. Even though arterial histidine concentrations were high, arterial histidine and carnosine concentrations (Exp. 1 and 2) and milk protein yields (Exp. 2) decreased by microalgae inclusion suggesting that histidine supply may become suboptimal on microalgae supplemented diets. Experiments demonstrated the suitability of microalgae as protein supplement for dairy cows, however, the protein value of microalgae is likely slightly lower than that of rapeseed meal.
TidskriftAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Sidor (från-till)295-311
Antal sidor17
StatusPublicerad - dec. 2017
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


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