A randomized herd-level field study of dietary interactions with monensin on milk fat percentage in dairy cows.

Research paper by J J Dubuc, D D DuTremblay, M M Brodeur, T T Duffield, R R Bagg, J J Baril, L L DesCôteaux

Indexed on: 24 Jan '09Published on: 24 Jan '09Published in: Journal of Dairy Science


This field trial evaluated the effects of dietary supplementation with 16 mg/kg (based on total dry matter intake) of monensin sodium on bulk tank milk fat percentage (MFP) of commercial dairy herds. Interactions between monensin and nutritional factors on MFP were studied. The trial was conducted in 47 Holstein dairy herds in Québec, Canada, between November 2005 and May 2006. The herd was the unit of interest. Enrolled herds were followed for a 7-mo period. Monensin treatment was randomly allocated in a crossover design where monensin was supplemented to the lactating dairy cow diet for a consecutive 12-wk period. Twenty-four herds were allocated to monensin treatment for the first period of trial, and 23 herds were allocated for the second period. Diet composition and ration physically effective particle level were collected every 8 wk. Milk fat percentage data were retrieved from weekly bulk tank measures. Data were analyzed in linear mixed models using repeated measures within herd where MFP was considered the outcome variable. In addition to the main effect of monensin treatment, the following covariates were forced a priori into all statistical models: treatment period, weekly herd mean parity, and weekly herd mean days in milk. The majority of herds were fed a total mixed ration (n = 29) and were housed in tie-stalls (n = 42). Monensin significantly decreased bulk tank MFP by 0.12 percentage points. The reduction of MFP associated with monensin was larger for herds having a diet high (>39.7%) in nonfiber carbohydrates, having a low level of physically effective particles in ration (>45.0%; >or=8 mm), and not feeding dry hay as first meal in the morning. Significant interactions between monensin and nutritional factors on bulk tank MFP were related to nonfiber carbohydrate and fiber concentrations in the diet.