|Publisher||American Dairy Science Association|
Rehydrated and ensiled mature ground corn has high ruminal starch digestibility, but particle size (PS) and dietary starch proportion (ST) can affect starch digestion and lactating cow performance. We evaluated the effect of rehydrated and ensiled corn (REC), PS, and ST on intake, lactation performance, nutrient digestibility, ruminal fermentation profile, and chewing behavior of dairy cows. Kernels from an 84% vitreousness hybrid were finely (FN) or coarsely (CS) ground, yielding geometric mean particle sizes of 1,591 and 2,185 µm, respectively. Ground kernels were rehydrated [60% dry matter (DM)] and ensiled in 200-L buckets for ≥205 d. The grinding rate (t/h) was 3.9 for FN and 11.7 for CS. The PS did not affect DM loss (11.3% of ensiled) or silage pH (3.8). Samples of each bucket (n = 15/PS) before and after silage fermentation were incubated in situ for 0, 3, 6, 18, and 48 h in 4 rumen-cannulated lactating cows. Ensiling increased the effective ruminal in situ DM degradation (63.7 vs. 34.1%), regardless of PS. Sixteen Holstein cows (152 ± 96 d in milk) in 4 × 4 Latin squares (21-d periods) were individually fed a 2 × 2 factorial combination of low (LO) or high (HI) starch diets with FN or CS. Cows were fed the same REC incubated in situ. Varied concentration of starch in the diet (29.2 vs. 23.5% of DM) was achieved by partial replacement of REC (22.0 vs. 14.2% of DM) with citrus pulp (0 vs. 8.2% of DM). Milk, protein, fat, and lactose yields did not differ. Milk fat percentage was reduced and protein percentage was increased by HI. Treatment FN increased feed efficiency (energy-corrected milk/digestible organic matter intake) when fed with HI. Total-tract starch digestibility tended to be reduced by CS (96.4 vs. 97.2% of starch intake). Serum β-hydroxybutyrate was increased by LO. High-starch diet reduced the molar proportions of acetate and butyrate in ruminal fluid and increased propionate and isoacids. Particle size did not affect ruminal fermentation profile. Coarse grinding reduced plasma d-lactate concentration with HI. Diet HI reduced the proportion of daily intake from 1900 to 0700 h and induced preferential intake of feed particles <8 mm and greater refusal of particles >19 mm in the morning. Fine REC reduced rumination time per day and increased eating time per DM intake. Milk and plasma urea-N did not differ. Ensiling of mature flint corn for >200 d largely eliminated the effect of the PS of REC on the studied outcomes. The proportion of REC in the diet affected ruminal fermentation profile and milk solids concentration, but did not affect short-term performance and digestibility. Coarse grinding of REC may allow increasing the grinding rate and thus save labor and energy during ensiling.
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