Diets for Dairy Cows with Different Proportions of Crude Protein Originating from Red Clover Silage versus Soybean Meal : Ruminal Degradation and Intestinal Digestibility of Amino Acids

The purpose was to assess the effect of exchanging crude protein (CP) of soybean meal (SBM) with red clover silage (RCS) in total mixed rations (TMR) on ruminal degradation and intestinal digestibility (ID) of essential amino acids (EAA). Four TMR and their individual feed components were studied. The TMR were composed of forage and concentrates (75:25), with proportions of RCS in TMR of 0.15, 0.30, 0.45, and 0.60 on a dry matter basis, resulting in diet groups RCS15, RCS30, RCS45, and RCS60, respectively. The ruminal degradation of EAA was determined using the nylon bag technique. For this, samples of TMR and their individual feed components were ruminally incubated for 16 h. The feed residues of TMR obtained after 16 h of incubation were used for the determination of ID of EAA using the mobile-bag technique. Increasing RCS and reducing SBM proportions linearly increased (p < 0.01) the in situ ruminal degradation of individual EAA from 75.5% to 83.5%. The degradation of EAA followed the trend of CP degradation among TMR, except for Cys that was lower (p < 0.05) than that of CP in RCS60 (79.7% vs. 86.3%). The degradation of EAA in individual feed ingredients not always corresponded to the degradation of CP and was feed dependent. Increasing the proportions of RCS in the TMR linearly reduced (p < 0.001) the ID of EAA (except for Ile) from 78.2% to 67.3%. However, the ID of EAA did not always reflect the ID of CP, and in general, the differences between the ID of CP and EAA increased as RCS increased in the TMR. The ID values of most of the EAA were similar (p > 0.05) to ID of CP in RCS15 and RCS30, while they mostly differed (p < 0.05) in RCS45 and RCS60, and being higher for EAA than CP (except for Cys that was lower than CP, p < 0.05). Similar trends were observed for intestinal absorbable AA, resulting in higher values (p < 0.05) of intestinal absorbable for all EAA than of CP in diet RCS60. In conclusion, increasing levels of RCS in TMR reduced the extent of EAA flow into the small intestine, the ID of EAA, and consequently the intestinal absorbable EAA. Therefore, accurate determination of metabolizable AA must be considered for optimal diet formulation when including high proportions of RCS in diets of high-producing dairy cows.


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