Effects of altering the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids and concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids in diets on milk production and energy balance of Holstein cows

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      Our objective was to examine the effects of different ratios of n-6 to n-3 (n-6/n-3) fatty acids (FA) and amounts of PUFA on milk production and nutrient utiliza- tion in mid-lactating Holstein cows.

      Materials and Methods

      Twenty-four lactating cows (550 ± 50 kg of BW and 100 ± 5 DIM) were randomly assigned to receive 1 of the 4 diets: (1) high n-6/n-3 (8.45) FA and low PUFA (19.0 g/kg of DM) concentration (n- 6-SFA), (2) high n-6/n-3 (8.78) FA and high PUFA (26.7 g/kg of DM) concentration (n-6-UFA), (3) low n-6/n-3 (5.74) FA and low PUFA (21.2 g/kg of DM) concentration (n-3-SFA), and (4) low n-6/n-3 (6.22) FA and high PUFA (26.7 g/kg of DM) concentration (n-3-UFA).

      Results and Discussion

      The n-3-SFA diet improved milk production, fat- and energy-corrected milk, milk fat and protein yields, and digestibility of NDF compared with other diets. Dry matter intake, milk fat and protein content, BW, and BCS were not affected, although es- timated energy balance was lower in n-3-SFA compared with the other diets. The n-3-SFA diet had the greatest feed efficiency value. Partial replacement of SFA with n-3 FA (n-3-SFA) could be considered for improving produc- tion and feed efficiency in dairy cows.

      Implications and Applications

      Decreasing the ra- tio of n-6/n-3 and the amount of dietary PUFA increased milk, milk-fat, and milk-protein yields, whereas DMI was similar; thus, feed conversion to milk improved. Therefore, diets containing similar concentrations of fat but greater n-3 FA and less content of PUFA may be beneficial for improving production in mid-lactating Holstein cows.

      Key words

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