Macro- and Micro-nutrient Utilization and Milk Production in Crossbred Dairy Cows Fed Finger Millet (Eleucine coracana) and Rice (Oryza sativa) Straw as Dry Roughage Source
Finger millet straw and rice straw are the major source of dry roughage in southern India. They distinctly vary in their morphological and nutritional characters. Hence an effort was made to study the nutrient utilization, milk yield and composition in crossbred dairy cows fed either finger millet (group 1) or rice straw (group 2) as a source of dry roughage. The cows in both the groups were fed as per requirement with concentrate, green fodder and straw in the ratio of 30:45:25 parts (DM). At the end of 50 days of preliminary feeding a digestibility trial was conducted for 7 days and pooled samples of feed, fodder, feces, urine and milk were analysed for macro and micro nutrient content. Finger millet straw contained more CP, Ca, P, Mg, Cu, Zn and Co than rice straw and rice straw contained higher ADF, ash and silica. The intake of DM, CP, EE, NDF, ADF and most micronutrients (Ca, P, Mg, Cu, Zn, Fe, Mn and Co) was significantly higher in cows fed finger millet straw. The digestibility of DM, CP, NDF and ADF was significantly higher in cows fed finger millet straw and the gut absorption of Ca, Cu, Mn and Co was significantly higher in cows fed finger millet straw. The dietary requirement of all micronutrients in both the group of cows could be met irrespective of the type of roughage fed except that of Ca, which was low (0.61 and 0.40%) in rice straw fed cows. The average daily milk yield (L/cow) was also higher (7.0 L) in cows fed finger millet straw as compared to cows fed rice straw (6.3 L). The average milk composition also did not differ except that of milk fat which was significantly (4.7 and 4.5%) low in cows fed rice straw. The overall results of this study have indicated that finger millet straw is a better source of dry fodder than rice straw and while feeding rice straw as the sole roughage to dairy cows there is need to supplement additional calcium as this could be one of the limiting nutrients for milk production.
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