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Effects of feeding lauric acid on ruminal protozoa numbers, fermentation, and digestion and on milk production in dairy cows

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The objectives of this study were 1) to determine the level of lauric acid (LA) addition to the diet necessary to effectively suppress ruminal protozoa (RP) to the extent observed when a single dose was given directly into the rumen, 2) to assess LA effects on production and ruminal metabolism, and 3) to determine the time needed for RP to reestablish themselves after LA is withdrawn from the diet of lactating dairy cows. In Exp. 1, 2 Holstein cows fitted with ruminal cannulae were used in a split-plot design pilot study. Both cows consumed the same level of LA, starting with 0 g/d and increasing to 129, 270, and 438 g/d mixed into the diet. Diets were fed as total mixed ration (TMR) and contained (DM basis) 30% corn silage, 30% alfalfa silage, and 40% concentrate. Lauric acid intake linearly decreased DMI (P = 0.03), RP numbers (P < 0.01), ruminal acetate molar proportion (P = 0.03), and ruminal ammonia concentration (P = 0.03). Lauric acid intake linearly increased ruminal valerate molar proportion (P = 0.02). A quadratic response of LA consumption was observed on total ruminal VFA concentration (P < 0.01) and propionate molar proportion (P < 0.01), with maximum responses at 270 g/d of LA intake. A quadratic response of LA consumption was also observed on total ruminal free amino acid (TAA) concentration (P < 0.01), with minimum concentration at 270 g/d of LA intake. After withdrawing the greatest LA dose from the diet, RP returned to their original numbers in 12 d. In Exp. 2, 48 multiparous Holstein cows (8 with ruminal cannulae) were blocked by days in milk into 12 blocks of 4 cows (2 blocks of cannulated cows) and randomly assigned within replicated 4 x 4 Latin squares to balanced dietary treatment sequences. Diets were fed as TMR and contained (DM basis) 36% corn silage, 29% alfalfa silage, and 35% concentrate, and LA intake levels were 0, 220, 404, and 543 g/d mixed in the TMR. In Exp. 2, LA linearly reduced RP (P < 0.01), ruminal ammonia (P < 0.01), and total free AA concentration (P < 0.01); however, dietary LA also linearly decreased DM intake (P < 0.01). Intake of LA linearly reduced ruminal total VFA concentration (P < 0.01); DM, OM, NDF, and CP digestibility (P < 0.01); and milk production and milk components (P < 0.01). Therefore, LA does not appear to be a feasible RP suppressant for feeding in practical diets.
A. P. Faciola , G. A. Broderick
USDA Scientist Submission
Journal of animal science 2013 v.91 no.5
American Society of Animal Science
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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