Effect of Supplemental Fish Meal on the Lactation and Reproductive Performance of Dairy Cows

Source: D. J. Carroll, F. R. Hossain, and M. R. Keller
The influence of high protein diets (21% CP, DM basis), containing varied percentages of RUP, on lactation performance and fertility was evaluated. Sixty-two Holstein cows (65% multiparous) were blocked by age and randomly assigned to a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design from d 12 to 125 postpartum. Factor 1 was 0 or 3.5% fish meal diet, factor 2 was location (Calan door versus free stall), and factor 3 was parity (first versus second or later). The soybean meal diet consisted of alfalfa hay, corn silage, barley, and soybean meal. The fish meal diet contained 3.5% fish meal (ruminant grade menhaden) that replaced a portion of the soybean meal. Cows fed the fish meal diet (40% RUP) had DMI, BW, and body condition similar to those of cows offered the soybean meal diet (34% RUP). Cows receiving the fish meal supplement tended to have higher milk protein production throughout the trial, higher milk production during the first 6 wk, and significantly lower ruminal ammonia concentrations than cows receiving the soybean meal diet. Differences in reproductive performance were not significant except for a diet by housing location interaction for conception rates from first AI.