We randomly assigned 189 cows in a commercial dairy farm to dietary treatments with supplemental corn grain (SC) or without supplemental corn grain (NC) approximately 3 wk before expected parturition. Diets formulated were similar except that dry ground corn replaced 21% of the corn silage in one diet. Cows fed SC had reduced plasma β-hydroxybutyrate and tended to have increased plasma insulin concentrations prepartum compared with cows fed NC. Treatment did not affect nonesterified fatty acid concentrations prepartum, any blood variables postpartum, or incidences of health disorders. Effects of treatment on production responses were highly dependent on parity as indicated by parity × treatment × time interactions for milk and protein yields. Primiparous cows fed SC had lower milk protein yield, higher somatic cell count and days open compared with cows fed NC. The SC diet resulted in lower milk yields in early lactation and increased somatic cell count and days open for cows in second parity. However, cows in third parity or greater fed the SC diet yielded more milk and protein in early lactation, and had decreased somatic cell counts and days open. Increasing the corn grain concentration of the diet fed prepartum was advantageous to third and greater parity cows in this experiment, but showed no benefits during lactation for cows in first or second parities.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
the modification of facilities and management routines required to conduct the experiment, Tom Pilbeam and Laura Bolinger for technical assistance, and the Michigan Corn Growers Association for partial financial support.
- Corn grain
- Dry cows
- Late dry period