Milk production and fatty acid profile of dairy cows grazing four grass species pastures during the rainy season in small-scale dairy systems in the highlands of Mexico
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The study evaluated small-scale dairy systems with continuous grazing of pastures based on three temperate grasses festulolium (FL), tall fescue (TF), and perennial ryegrass (RG), compared with subtropical kikuyu grass (KG). All pastures were associated with white clover (Trifolium repens L.). Twelve multiparous Holstein cows were assigned to a 4 × 4 Latin square replicated three times with 14-day experimental periods. Sampling and analyses of pastures, concentrates, and animal variables followed standard procedures. FL showed a significantly (p < 0.05) higher mean sward height, but there were no differences (p > 0.05) in net herbage accumulation. There were significant differences (p < 0.05) among pastures for CP, NDF, ADF, in vitro digestibility of OM (IVOMD), and estimated metabolizable energy (eME). There were no differences (p > 0.05) between treatments for milk yield and composition, live weight, or body condition score. There were significant differences (p < 0.05) in fatty acid values for pastures in C14:0, C16:1, and C18:3n3. There were significant differences between treatments (p < 0.05) in milk contents for C18:0, C18:1t11, and C18:2c9t11. Grazing FL, TF, RG, or KY pastures showed no differences in milk yields. Higher values for C18:0, C18:1t11, and C18:2c9t11 were detected in KY, RG, and TF. RG had significantly higher MUFA than FL and higher PUFA than TF. A value under 65% of SFA, a ratio of n-6/n-3 lower than 4, and an atherogenic index of 1.7 are indicators of milk with beneficial effects for human health.
KeywordsFeeding strategies Conjugated linoleic acid Fatty acids in milk Festulolium Lolium arundinaceum Lolium perenne Pennisetum clandestinum
The authors express gratitude to the farmers who participated in this experiment, whose privacy is respected by not disclosing their names.
This work was undertaken thanks to funding by the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología–CONACYT) through grant 129449 CB-2009 and the postgraduate grant for Dalia Andrea Plata-Reyes.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Statement on ethical standards and animal rights
The paper reports an on-farm experiment undertaken with two participating farmers who had knowledge of the objectives of the work and were duly informed at all times, and their privacy and that of their family respected by not disclosing their names. Experimental procedures with dairy cows followed accepted procedures by Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México.
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