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Chicory and plantain-dominated forb pasture improves health and rumen N efficiency in lactating dairy cows.

H. Ford




Chicory and plantain-dominated forb pasture improves health and rumen N efficiency in lactating dairy cows.
H. Ford*1, S. Busato1, E. Trevisi2, Y. Gultekin1, M. Bionaz1, S. Ates1. 1Oregon State University Corvallis, OR, 2Universit� Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Piacenza, Italy.

Alternative pasture species like chicory and plantain are known to have high amounts of secondary metabolites that may mitigate N losses and inefficiencies, but their overall impact on animal health remains to be fully understood. The objective of this study was to identify the effects on health of dairy cows of chicory+plantain-dominated pasture using 26 blood parameters associated with metabolism and oxidative and immune status. For this purpose, 27 mid-lactation dairy cows were randomly assigned to one of the following pastures (3 blocks each): grass-clover (G, festulolium, tall fescue, orchardgrass and white clover), legume (L; red clover, birdsfoot trefoil, balansa clover and berseem clover), and forb (F; chicory, plantain and white clover). Cows grazed for 39 d over 2 periods. Blood was collected following morning milking at 7 time points over the 2 periods. Twenty-six parameters were assessed in plasma and data were analyzed using GLIMMIX with pasture as the main effect and block (n = 3) as random effect. Compared with G, cows grazed in both F and L pastures had significantly lower (P < 0.05) BHBA (0.45(F) and 0.51(L) vs. 0.59(G) mM) and creatinine (63.9(F) and 64.7(L) vs. 69(G) mM) and higher vitamin E (12.7(F) and 12.8(L) vs. 8.8(G) �g/mL) and FRAP (213.3(F) and 216.8(L) vs. 201.8(G)), supporting an effect on the microbiome, a diuretic effect, and improved antioxidative status. Compared with both G and L, cows in F pasture had significantly lower (P < 0.05) urea (2.9(F) vs. 4.4(G) and 7.4(L) mM) and urea:creatinine ratio (45.8(F) vs. 64.7(G) and 113.9(L)), indicating improved utilization of urea in the rumen. Compared with both G and F, cows in L pasture had significantly higher (P < 0.05) hematocrit, bilirubin, cholesterol, albumin, β-carotene, retinol, and thiol groups but lower ceruloplasmin, paraoxonase, and myeloperoxidase, indicating a positive health effect of L pasture on liver, inflammation, and red blood cells. Overall, these results indicate that chicory-plantain and legume pastures rich in secondary metabolites can improve animal health, and efficiency of N utilization, compared with the typical grass pasture.

Keywords: pasture, dairy, metabolites.