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The effect of diets on milk production and composition, and on lactation curves in pastured dairy goats

B.R. Min, S.P. Hart, T. Sahlu, and L.D. Satter

Journal of Dairy Science 88:2604-2615. 2005.

A 2-yr study investigated effects of different levels of concentrate supplementation on milk production, composition, and lactation curves in pastured dairy goats. For both years, 44 Alpine goats (Capra hircus; 55 ± 11 kg body weight) were randomly allocated to 4 groups. Animals were supplemented with 0.66 (treatments A and B), 0.33 (treatment C), or 0 kg of concentrate (treatment D) per kg of milk over 1.5 kg/d. Mixed vegetative forages were rotationally grazed by the goats (treatments B, C, and D), except that treatment A was confined and fed alfalfa hay. Individual milk production was recorded daily, and milk samples were collected once every 2 wk for the 7-mo period (March to September) and analyzed for fat, protein, lactose, urea-N, nonesterified fatty acids, and allantoin (second year only). Milk yield and composition varied among dietary treatments, with some measures affected by year. Average daily milk yield was lowest for treatment D. The increased level of concentrate supplementation in treatment A led to 22% greater milk yield compared with treatment D. Milk production increased by 1.7 and 0.9 kg for each additional kilogram of concentrate fed per day during the first and second years, respectively. Average peak yield, time of peak yield, and persistency were lower for treatment D than for other treatments. The percentage of milk fat was lower for treatment D than for other treatments. Concentration of milk protein was greater for treatments A and B during the first year, and was higher for treatment C than for other treatments during the second year. Average milk lactose concentration was higher for treatments B and C than for other treatments. However, milk urea-N concentration in treatment A was higher than other treatments. Milk allantoin, used to estimate microbial proteins synthesis, was 20 to 25% greater for treatment A than for other treatments. Averaged across year, plasma urea-N and nonesterified fatty acids concentration were lowest for treatment B. Average organic matter intake was similar among treatments during both years. Ratios of acetate and propionate concentrations for treatment A were lowest among treatments. In conclusion, milk production and composition were affected by the feeding treatment and year. Increased level of nutrition lead to an increase in daily milk yield, peak yield, time of peak yield, and persistency compared with treatment D. Alpine dairy goats grazing on fresh forages without concentrate supplementation can produce milk inexpensively, and response to concentrate supplementation is greater for low quality pasture.


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