Effect of mixed maize-legume silages on milk quality and quantity from lactating smallholder dairy cows
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The study investigated the effect of the following maize:legume (70:30) mixed crop silages: maize:cowpea, maize:velvet bean, and maize:lablab on milk production during the 2016 dry season. Using a 5 × 5 double Latin square design, five Holstein-Friesian crossbred cows in early lactation (30 ± 15 days) and five Jersey crossbred cows in early lactation (25 ± 10 days) were given the supplementary mixed crop silage diets at 0.5 kg/l of milk produced over 105 days. Commercial dairy meal and sole maize silage were used as positive and negative controls, respectively. Milk yield was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in cows given the dairy meal compared to mixed crop silages; however, milk yield was also significantly higher (P < 0.05) for cows given the three mixed crop silages compared to cows given sole maize silage. Cows given mixed crop silages produced milk of significantly higher protein content (P < 0.05) than those given sole maize silage. There was no significant difference (P > 0.05) in butterfat content of milk across all the dietary treatments. The dietary cost of producing 1 l of milk was highest at 0.31USD/l for cows given commercial dairy meal and lowest for cows given maize:velvet bean and maize:cowpea silage at 0.19USD/kg. The highest dietary gross margins of 68% were observed when cows were given maize:velvet mixed silage compared to commercial dairy meal (47%) and sole maize silage (57%). The 70:30 maize:legume mixed crop silages showed the capability to increase milk quantity and quality at very low production costs in smallholder dairy schemes.
KeywordsHolstein-Friesian crosses Protein-energy malnutrition
The authors wish to thank the University of Zimbabwe, Nestle Zimbabwe, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) for funding the research.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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