Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Jong-Su Eun


Jong-Su Eun


Allen J. Young


J. Earl Creech


Dirk K. Vanderwall


Developing solutions to the metabolic stress experienced by cows during the transition period is very important because it can negatively influence lactational performance. The objectives were to: 1) compare physiological changes through body weight (BW) and concentrations of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and β-hydroxybutyric acid (BHBA) and 2) evaluate feed intake, milk production, and energy balance (EB) of cows fed brown midrib corn silage (BMRCS)-based diets when compared with conventional corn silage (CCS)-based diets during the transition. At 4 wk prior to parturition, 40 dry multiparous Holstein cows were randomly assigned treatments. The treatment groups consisted of 2 close-up transition diets (CCS-based and BMRCS-based diet) offered to 2 groups of 20 cows each beginning at 4 wk prepartum. After calving, 10 cows from each prepartum group were individually fed one of four dietary treatments. The four dietary treatments postpartum were defined as follows: 1) CC = CCS-based close-up diet + CCS-based lactation diet; 2) CB = CCS-based close-up diet + BMRCS-based lactation diet; 3) BB = BMRCS-based close-up diet + BMRCS-based lactation diet; 4) BC = BMRCS-based close-up diet + CCS-based lactation diet. Cows were sampled weekly for feed intake, and feed composition was taken monthly. After calving, milk yields were recorded daily and milk components were analyzed monthly. Body weights were taken twice per week on wk -4, -2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20. Blood serum was sampled 3 times per week from wk -4 through 4 and then on wk 6, 8, 14, and 20. Rumen fluid was sampled on wk -4, 4, 8, 14, and 20. Feeding BMRCS-based diets during the transition did have a positive influence on dry matter intake, milk production, and energy balance. Interestingly, feeding BMRCS-based diets only during the close-up period and feeding a CCS-based diet during the lactation had similar positive effects as feeding a BMRCS-based diet through the dry period and during the lactation. This finding is meaningful because producers, especially in the Intermountain West, have experienced BMR crop yields that have been less than that of conventional crop yields and may be unwilling to utilize BMRCS in dairy rations. However, if feeding a BMRCS-based diet for a limited amount of time is beneficial, producers could be more willing to utilize this silage hybrid as an important transition period management tool.