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Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) as an alternative forage for dairy cows

  • A. W. Alemu (a1) and L. Doepel (a1)

Abstract

Fenugreek is a novel forage crop in Canada that is generating interest as an alternative to alfalfa for dairy cows. To evaluate the value of fenugreek haylage relative to alfalfa haylage, six, second lactation Holstein cows (56 ± 8 days in milk), which were fitted with rumen cannulas (10 cm i.d., Bar Diamond Inc., Parma, ID, USA) were used in a replicated three × three Latin square design with 18-day periods. Diets consisting of 400 g/kg haylage, 100 g/kg barley silage and 500 g/kg concentrate on a dry matter (DM) basis were fed once daily for ad libitum intake. The haylage component constituted the dietary treatments: (i) Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada F70 fenugreek (F70), (ii) Crop Development Center Quatro fenugreek (QUAT) and (iii) alfalfa (ALF). DM intake (DMI), milk yield and milk protein and lactose yields were higher (P < 0.001) for cows fed ALF than fenugreek (FEN, average of F70 and QUAT). Milk fat of cows fed FEN contained lower concentrations of saturated, medium-chain and hypercholestrolemic fatty acids (FAs; P < 0.05) than that of cows fed ALF. Apparent total tract digestibility of DM and nutrients was not affected by treatments. Similarly, individual ruminal volatile FA concentrations and rumen pH (5.9) were not affected by treatments. Rumen ammonia–N concentration was higher for FEN than ALF (P < 0.001). Estimates of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) passage rate (P < 0.05) and NDF turnover rate (P < 0.001) in the rumen were higher for ALF than FEN. Our results suggest that although the digestibility of the FEN diets was not different from that of the ALF diet, fenugreek haylage has a lower feeding value than ALF for lactating dairy cows due in part to lower DMI and subsequently lower milk yield.

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