It’s well-known that mid-lactation cows benefit from fatty acid supplementation with palmitic acid. But what about early-lactation cows?
phdR&D researchers evaluated early-lactation cows’ response to increasing amounts of supplemental palmitic acid in the diet. All cows were fed a TMR with 35% corn silage, 19% alfalfa, 15.8% crude protein, 27.7% NDF and 28.4% starch once daily. Fat content of the basal diet was 2.6% total fatty acids, of which 0.5% was from palmitic acid. Twelve multiparous Holstein cows averaging 53 days in milk were enrolled in the study. Four levels of fatty acid supplementation (0, 0.5%, 1.0% or 1.5% of ration dry matter) were added to the basal diet, and cow response was tracked. Over the course of the study each cow was fed each of the 4 different fatty acid supplementation levels for 14 days with the final 5 days used for data collection. Results were as follows:
Milk yield increased with palmitic acid supplementation, 132.5 lbs, 132 lbs, 135.4 lbs and 135.8 lbs/day with 0, 0.5%, 1% and 1.5% palmitic acid added to the diet, respectfully.
Milk fat concentration was highest with 1% palmitic acid added to the diet, 3.59% vs. 3.52% for non-supplemented cows.
Milk protein concentration was not affected by additional palmitic acid in the diet.
Total milk protein yield increased due to the increase in milk production.
Dry matter intake was highest with 0.5% or 1% palmitic acid supplementation. Both resulted in 69.7 lbs of DMI per day compared to 66.4 lbs per day for non-supplemented cows—a difference of 3.3 lbs per day.
Researchers concluded that high-producing Holstein cows had the best overall response to 1% palmitic acid supplementation in early lactation.