The widespread increase in use of maize-based feedstuffs in California dairy cow rations has raised concerns of reduced efficiency of CP utilization due to the low lysine content of maize and maize by-products. The objectives of this research were to determine the impact of increased dietary maize CP levels on animal performance using three metabolic models of dairy cows in order to predict limiting AA’s in California dairy rations to identify a ruminally protected AA package to supplement similar rations. Since lysine was the most consistently predicted limiting AA among dairies, and metabolic models, the dairy with the ration calculated to be the most limiting in lysine was chosen to determine effects of feeding an RPL product on milk production and composition, as well as on N balance. Nutrient profiles of 16 high multiparity cow rations were evaluated and limiting AA predicted by the metabolic models Amino Cow, CPM Dairy and Shield. Higher inclusion levels of maize products in rations increased the contribution of maize CP to the total CP content of the TMR, to between 20 – 40%, but had no impact on cow performance. Even though the lysine to methionine ratio decreased as more maize CP was included in the TMR, it did not have a major impact on the final predicted AA profile of MP, or milk component levels, but, according to Shield, it had an effect on milk yield. Methionine, isoleucine and lysine were predicted to be most limiting according to Amino Cow, CPM Dairy and Shield respectively. The models suggested three dramatically different AA packages but the high degree of consistency within model in predicting the limiting AA sequence among dairies, suggest that there may be sufficient consistency in the nutrient profiles among rations to support production of a ruminally protected AA complex. The second experiment used a double (i.e., early and mid-lactation multiparity dairy cows) 2 x 2 factorial with 28 day experimental periods. Feeding the RPL, with estimated rumen escape of lysine between 18 and 23% suggesting an increased intestinal absorption of lysine between 8 and 22 g/d/cow, did not influence DMI or milk, true protein and lactose yields. Milk fat yield and concentration decreased, while MUN percentages increased when RPL was fed. Blood plasma levels of almost all AA’s, except lysine, decreased when RPL was fed, suggesting that lysine was the limiting AA and that its supplementation led to increased absorption and utilization of other AA. The lack of response in milk protein synthesis and the decrease in plasma 3-MH concentrations when RPL was fed suggests that muscle protein synthesis was stimulated, and degradation reduced, with RPL feeding. It is possible that lysine had an effect, either directly or indirectly, on muscle protein turnover and energy metabolism that, impacted intakes, metabolism and absorption of AA and milk production in mid lactation cows, but it had no major impact on early lactation cows. Copyright
Dissertation (MSc(Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2009.