Feeding Wheat to Dairy Cows

feeding wheat to dairy cows

In recent years, feeds containing wheat bran have been added to the ration of dairy cows in mid-lactation. This feed provides a high energy level, while also being low in fiber and fat. In addition to being low in fat, it is also highly digestible, which is important for dairy cows, which tend to be sedentary and need less energy than other feeds. Hence, the replacement of cereal grains with by-product feeds will help improve the sustainability of the dairy cow ration.

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Processed wheat improves digestibility

Milk production studies show that fed grain to dairy cows can increase their NDF and DM digestibility. Moreover, GW at 10% versus 20% dietary content is more digestible than barley, according to the results. Wheat is highly digestible and can be fed to dairy cows at a high percentage of their diet. However, wheat grain should not be ground finely, since this will increase the risk of digestive upsets. Instead, wheat grain should be rolled coarsely, breaking the kernels into two to three pieces each. The coarser the grain, the more tempering will occur, keeping performance and digestibility.

However, there are mixed results when it comes to determining how much cereal grain a dairy cow’s rumen can break down. While studies on rumen digestibility of whole grains have found no difference, results from other trials have shown a trend toward higher DM digestibility. The amount of carbohydrates and protein in milk of dairy cows that are digestible depends on the type of feed and how much it is processed. A high digestibility means that the cows can utilize feed ingredients at the highest level.

It is a high-energy feed

Many producers of dairy products are turning to high-energy wheat feed for dairy cattle, because it contains more protein than other sources of energy. Wheat bran is a great replacement for common cereal grains for mid-lactation dairy cows. The high-energy content and the fiber content of wheat bran helps increase the efficiency of human-edible feed conversion and the net food production index, which are key indicators of how nutritious your dairy cow’s diet is.

The difference in milk fat production can be attributed to differences in rumen degradability of grain starch. The substitution of wheat grain for corn kernels reduces milk fat concentration, although milk fat production may not differ from energy-corrected milk production. Similarly, studies have found no difference in milk fat production when compared with energy-corrected milk produced by high-producing cows. High-energy wheat feed for dairy cows can lower costs without sacrificing lactation performance.

It is low-fiber

Soybean hulls can substitute for forage in early lactation Holstein dairy cows. When combined with concentrate, soybean hulls are a low-fiber and high-protein substitute. During late lactation, oats and sorghum can replace alfalfa silage. But, in general, cows that receive the highest levels of fiber are those that produce the most milk.

The forage NDF can serve as an indicator of the amount of effective fiber. However, when formulating a diet based on minimum FNDF levels, the particle size and source of NFC must be considered. In addition, low-fiber forage diets should not be fed to dairy cows in the first thirty days of lactation, when milk production is most susceptible to metabolic disease.

It is low-fat

The nutritional value of wheat is not high enough to warrant the use of a lower-fat supplement for dairy cows. Wheat is rich in fiber and contains a high concentration of protein, resulting in milk production that is approximately 20,000 pounds per year. Added fat should be added only if the cows are receiving enough energy. Fat sources for dairy cows include soybeans, cottonseed, linseed, safflower, and sunflower. Many producers also feed meals from these oils, but be aware that the oil remaining in these meals contributes to the overall fat content of the diet. Other sources of fat are hominy, fish meal, and distiller’s grain. Some sources of fats are even higher in protein than those found in wheat.

Studies involving cattle have shown that a diet high in ground wheat grains may decrease milk yield and milk fat in lactating cows. Wheat is also easier to digest than corn, and milk fat yield is higher in cows fed a high-wheat diet. However, ground wheat grains may increase the risk of laminitis and subacute rumen acidosis in dairy cows.

It is high-protein

Excess protein in a dairy cow’s diet can negatively impact reproductive success. According to Mike Hutjens, a retired professor of dairy science at the University of Illinois, excess protein converts to blood urea and ammonia, which are toxic to the reproductive system and the pituitary-ovarian axis. Excess protein also suppresses the immune system, reducing the cow’s reproductive efficiency.

Various diets have different effects on ruminal pH. One study measured pH continuously over two days in the rumen of dairy cows fed wheat or corn. Wheat fed cows had twice as long a pH below six compared to corn fed cows. These results highlight the need to provide dairy cows with a variety of high-quality sources of protein and fiber in their diet. This article will give you a brief overview of how wheat works in dairy cow rations.