Offering sodium bentonite and sodium bicarbonate free-choice to lactating dairy cattle
Wester, Leanna E.
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The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the effects of free-choice intake of sodium bentonite and sodium bicarbonate on physiological and production parameters. Eight Jerseys and seventeen Holsteins (four fistulated) were randomly assigned to two groups to equalize stage of lactation, age and production history. Two diets were fed: diet 1 without added sodium bicarbonate and diet 2 with sodium bicarbonate added at 1.2% of dry matter. Each group followed a different diet regime: 1) diet 1 with no free-choice (D1-NFC), 2) diet 2 with no free-choice (D2-NFC), 3) diet 1 with free-choice (D1-WFC), and 4) diet 2 with free-choice (D2-WFC). Free-choice options of sodium bentonite and sodium bicarbonate were offered side by side in a covered feeder to breed groups. Diets were changed every 10 d to provide 8 periods with a repetition of each diet regime. All diets were adjusted to 17% ADF and 17% CP. There were no differences with either breed among diets for blood and fecal observations or milk protein. Urine specific gravity was lower in both breeds when sodium bicarbonate was force-fed. Holsteins force-fed sodium bicarbonate had greater intake and milk production than Holsteins not force-fed. In Jerseys, milk urea nitrogen (MUN) decreased when sodium bicarbonate was added to the TMR. During periods in which cows were allowed free-choice access to sodium bentonite and sodium bicarbonate, Jerseys had higher urine pH, fat-corrected milk, MUN, and dry matter intake (DMI), and Holsteins had higher milk fat percentages and fecal pH.
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