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Molasses supplementation for dual-purpose cows during the dry season in subtropical Mexico

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The effect of including 9 % of molasses in supplements offered to dual purpose cows, during dry season in subtropical Mexico was determined. Forage availability in pastures during the dry season is reduced and of low quality. Molasses is a readily available source of energy that may improve forage utilization and could have a positive effect on cow’s milk production and calves daily weight gain (CDWG). Twelve multiparous Brown Swiss cows (409 ± 33 kg of body weight and 136 ± 73 days in milk), and their calves were randomly assigned to two supplements (six cows per treatment). Control supplement (COS) consisted of cracked maize ears (CME), soybean meal and urea (14 % CP), and experimental supplement in which 9 % of CME was replaced by molasses (MOS). Cows received 4.5 kg/cow/day dry matter (DM) of supplement. Experiment lasted 10 weeks divided in five experimental periods (EP). Animal responses (milk yield, milk composition, body weight, body condition score and CDWG) were recorded at the end of every EP. A linear mixed model was used to analyse the data as a complete random design. Net profits from milk and beef due to supplements were estimated using partial budget approach. Average milk yield was 7 (kg/cow/day) with 30.6, 30.4 and 42.5 (g/kg milk) of fat, protein and lactose, respectively. Average cow weight was 422 kg and CDWG was 0.8 kg/day. No significant responses on animal production variables were found when 9 % of MOS was included in the supplement; however, total net income increased on 4 %, due to higher CDWG.

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Authors express their gratitude to the farmer participating in this work. This work was undertaken thanks to fundings by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología–(CONACYT) through grant 129449 CB-2009; and Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, through the grants UAEM 3293/2012 M and 1003/2012 RCA. Thanks also to CONACYT for the grant that enabled Isela Salvador Loreto to undertake her postgraduate studies. Thanks to Dr. Nicolás López Villalobos for his comments to improve this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Benito Albarrán-Portillo.

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Salvador-Loreto, I., Arriaga-Jordán, C.M., Estrada-Flores, J.G. et al. Molasses supplementation for dual-purpose cows during the dry season in subtropical Mexico. Trop Anim Health Prod 48, 643–648 (2016).

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  • Dry season
  • Milk
  • Beef
  • Molasses
  • Economic performance
  • Subtropical