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Interest of dehydrated alfalfa in maize and grass silage diets for dairy cows

INRA Prod. Anim., 15(2), 119-124.


1 INRA, Station SAD, Domaine du Joly, 88501 Mirecourt Cedex

2 SNDF, 14 rue Armand Moisant 75015 Paris.


Two trials were performed in order to study the interestof 3 kg dehydrated alfalfa (18% crude proteincontent, fibres of a few centimetres) in maize and grasssilage diets. Multiparous dairy cows (27 Montbeliardand 27 Holstein) received complete experimental dietsduring the first 15 weeks of lactation. The use of 3 kgdehydrated alfalfa permitted to reduce the quantity ofsoybean meal without reducing the energy and crudeprotein in the feed supply. DM intake was increasedwhen cows were fed alfalfa (23.4 versus 21.1 kg/d ;P<0.001). But this higher DM intake did not permit toincrease milk production which was 31.1 kg/d. Milk fatcontent was unaffected by the dehydrated alfalfa (43.0g/kg). Adding alfalfa increased milk protein content(31.2 versus 32.3 g/kg ; P<0.05) without changing themilk casein content. In this experiment with individuallyfed cows, we noticed that many dairy cows did noteasily consume dehydrated alfalfa. Calculated nitrogenexcretion was more important with the alfalfa diet(372 versus 321 g N/d ; P<0.001) because DM intakewas higher with an inadequate N mobilisation in milkprotein. At the beginning of lactation, weight and fatteningscore variations were unaffected by the diets. Nodifference was noticed for reproduction capacities.Although it is difficult to study animal health with onlya few animals, added alfalfa might decrease mastitisrisks by improving animal health due to the neutralisationpower of alfalfa and reducing acidosis conditions.

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