Incremental amounts of ground flaxseed decrease milk yield but increase n-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids in dairy cows fed high-forage diets


The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of incremental amounts of ground flaxseed (GFX) on milk yield and concentrations and yields of milk components, milk fatty acids (FA) profile, ruminal metabolism, and nutrient digestibility in dairy cows fed high-forage diets. Twelve multiparous Jersey cows averaging (mean ± SD) 112 ± 68 d in milk and 441 ± 21 kg of body weight and 8 primiparous Jersey cows averaging 98 ± 43 d in milk and 401 ± 43 kg of body weight were randomly assigned to treatment sequences in a replicated 4 × 4 Latin square design. Each period lasted 21 d with 14 d for diet adaptation and 7 d for data and sample collection. Treatments were fed as a total mixed ration (63:37 forage-to-concentrate ratio) with corn meal and soybean meal replaced by incremental levels (i.e., 0, 5, 10, or 15% diet dry matter) of GFX. The ruminal molar proportions of acetate and butyrate decreased linearly with GFX supplementation, whereas the ruminal molar proportion of propionate increased linearly resulting in decreased acetate-to-propionate ratio. Apparent total-tract digestibilities of nutrients either decreased (dry matter) or tended to decrease (organic matter, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber) linearly in cows fed GFX. Milk yield decreased linearly in cows fed increasing amounts of GFX, which is explained by the linear reduction in dry matter intake. Except for the concentrations of milk protein and urea N, which decreased linearly with GFX supplementation, no other changes in the concentration of milk components were observed. However, yields of milk protein and fat decreased linearly with GFX supplementation. The linear decrease in the yields of milk fat and protein are explained by reduced milk yield, whereas that in milk urea N is explained by decreased crude protein intake. No treatment effects were observed for plasma urea N and nonesterified fatty acids, serum cortisol, and body weight change. Milk odd- and branched-chain FA and saturated FA decreased linearly with GFX supplementation. Milk trans-11 18:1, α-linolenic acid, cis-9,trans-11 18:2, and the sum of n-3 FA all increased linearly and quadratically, whereas the milk ratio of n-6 to n-3 decreased linearly in cows fed GFX. Overall, compared with the control diet (0% GFX), the diet with 15% GFX supplementation resulted in the lowest milk yield but highest milk proportions and yields (data not shown) of cis-9,trans-11 18:2 and n-3 FA.

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Journal of Dairy Science



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