The preliminary results of this laboratory
(unpublished) indicate that the nutritional value of whole wheat hay (wheat
hay, for short) is very high, and the milk stage is the best period of wheat
hay harvest. In this study, we investigated the feeding effect and economic
benefits using wheat hay instead of alfalfa diet for dairy cows under the
condition of the same energy and crude protein levels. Three types of diets
were used: alfalfa diet, wheat hay diet and alfalfa + wheat hay diet. The
results showed that the dry matter digestibility of alfalfa diet and alfalfa +
wheat hay diet did not differ significantly (P > 0.1), but was significantly
higher than that of wheat hay diet (P < 0.05). The wheat hay diet could
produce more propionic acid and ammonia nitrogen (P < 0.05) in the rumen,
and reduce the ratio of acetic/propionic and nitrogen utilization. There was no
significant difference in milk production among the three diets (P > 0.1).
There was no significant difference in milk somatic cell count and body
condition score among the three groups (P > 0.1). The wheat hay diet could
significantly increase milk protein and lactose (P < 0.01). The contents of interleukin-6 in cows fed alfalfa diet
and alfalfa + wheat diet were significantly higher than that in cows fed wheat
hay diet (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference in interleukinm-6
between in cows fed alfalfa diet and alfalfa + wheat diet (P > 0.05). The
use of wheat hay to replace imported alfalfa in whole or in part could save
feed costs. Full substitution of alfalfa with wheat hay could have a daily
economic benefit of 13.74 yuan.
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