Nikkhah, A., Furedi, C. J., Kennedy, A. D., Scott, S. L., Wittenberg, K. M. Crow, G. H. and Plaizier, J. C. 2011. Morning vs. evening feed delivery for lactating dairy cows. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 91: 113–122. A study was conducted to investigate the effects of changing feed delivery time from morning (0900) to evening (2100) on feed intake, diurnal feed intake patterns, digestion, rumen fermentation, milk production and composition, as well as on several blood metabolites. Eight (four ruminally cannulated) lactating Holstein cows, consisting of four primiparous and four multiparous cows, were used in the study. The change in the time of feed delivery increased the proportion of feed consumed within 3 h of feed delivery in all cows (54.7 vs. 46.3±4.1%, means±SE, P=0.05), but increased daily dry matter intake only in primiparous cows (18.5 vs. 20.4±0.7 kg d-1, P=0.05). Average daily concentrations of blood glucose, lactate, urea and ß-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) as well as rumen pH and concentrations of volatile fatty acids (VFA) were not affected by feed delivery time. However, rumen pH was lower (P<0.05), at 5 and 6 h after feed delivery, while total rumen VFA and acetate were higher (P<0.05) only at 6 h after feed delivery in cows fed in the evening. Also, compared with feed delivery at 0900, feeding cows at 2100 resulted in lower (P<0.05) blood glucose and urea at 2 h after feed delivery, and increased BHBA (P<0.05) at 4 and 6 h after feed delivery. Cows fed at 2100 tended to produce more milk fat than those fed at 0900 (1.11 vs. 0.97±0.07 kg d-1, P=0.08). Milk yield and milk protein were not affected by the time of feed delivery. Changing the feed delivery time from morning to evening increased apparent total tract digestibility of dry matter, nitrogen, and neutral detergent fibre. The results of this study suggest that changing time of feed delivery from 0900 to 2100 increases feed consumption within 3 h after this delivery and rumen fermentation within 6 h after this delivery, changes diurnal patterns of glucose, urea and BHBA in peripheral blood, tends to increase milk fat, and increases nutrient digestibilities.
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