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Effects of Turnout to Pasture and Dietary Fat Supplementation on Milk Fat Composition and Conjugated Linoleic Acid in Dairy Cows

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Turnout to pasture involves considerable changes in the feed intake and metabolism of dairy cows. The aim of this study was to investigate how these changes affect milk production and milk fat composition, in cows selected for high (HFI) or low (LFI) milk fat content producing the same yield of 4% fat-corrected milk. Furthermore, two different concentrates, with high or low inclusion of soya oil, were studied. The experiment was conducted with 44 multiparous mid-lactating cows over a 4 week period. Samples of milk and blood were obtained before turnout to pasture, during transition to pasture and when cows were adapted to pasture. Milk yield decreased with 3.6 kg energy-corrected milk (ECM) on average during the first 5 days after turnout to pasture. This decrease, together with a drop in plasma insulin and increased plasma non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), indicated nutritional insufficiency at turnout to pasture. Milk fat composition changed towards more long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) and fewer de novo synthesized fatty acids. This was probably caused by an increased supply of LCFA of feed and body origin to the udder. LFI cows showed higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid at pasture than HFI cows.
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Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: 01 February 2002

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