Limit-feeding corn as an alternative to hay reduces manure and nutrient output by Holstein cows

L. J. Driedger, S. C. Loerch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Efficiency of limit-feeding a whole shelled corn-based diet as an alternative to a conventional forage-based diet for nonlactating dairy cattle was determined. Twelve nonlactating, multiparous Holstein cows (initial BW 642 ± 50 kg) were used in a randomized complete block design. Nutrient digestibility, excretion of DM, N, and P, performance of cows, and feed costs were measured. Both diets were formulated to provide equal daily intakes of NEl, protein, vitamins, and minerals, according to National Research Council recommendations. Dry matter intake was restricted by 30% for cows fed the high-corn diet compared with the high-forage diet (6.8 vs 9.6 kg/ d, respectively); therefore, concentrations of nutrients in the high-corn diet were increased to compensate for decreased DMI. Diets were fed once daily, and cows had unlimited access to fresh water. After a 28-d adaptation period, cows were placed in metabolism stalls for a 6-d total collection of feces and urine. The limit-fed, high-corn diet had a 15% greater DM digestibility than the high-forage diet. A 29% decrease in DMI for the high-corn diet vs the high-forage diet resulted in a 40% decrease in fecal DM excretion. Starch digestibility and digestibility of whole corn kernels were not affected (P ≥ .62) by diet. Despite similar N intakes, total N excretion was 22% greater (P < .01) for cows fed the high-forage diet than for those limit-fed the high-grain diet. Cow weight and condition score change did not differ (P > .10) between diets. Feed costs were reduced by $.38/d with the high-corn diet vs the high-forage diet. Limit-feeding a corn-based diet is an economically and nutritionally viable alternative to forage-based diets for nonlactating Holstein cows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-972
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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