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Nutritional composition of almond hulls for dairy cows.

E. J. DePeters



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Nutritional composition of almond hulls for dairy cows.
E. J. DePeters*1, K. L. Swanson1, H. M. Bill1, J. Asmus2, J. M. Heguy3. 1University of California-Davis Davis, CA, 2January Innovation Lodi, CA, 3UC Cooperative Extension Modesto, CA.

Almond hulls (AH) are a common feedstuff in the diet of dairy cattle in California. Commercial AH vary in nutrient composition because of the debris, shell and stick, contamination of the hulls. A survey (Castillo et al., 2012) of 40 dairy farms in California found AH to be an ingredient in 39 out of 104 TMR evaluated with an average feeding rate of 1.5 kg/cow/day and a range of feeding from 0.2 to 3.0 kg. Even though AH are commonplace in diets of lactating cows, there is a paucity of data on the chemical composition and nutritive value of AH. To achieve higher amounts of feeding to lactating dairy cows, more comprehensive information will be required on the nutritive value and chemical quality of AH. The aim of this research was to determine the nutritional composition of different varieties of AH and the impact of debris on composition. Commercial AH were hand sorted to yield pure AH and debris (non-hull material). Twelve samples of commercial AH were studied. Each sample of AH was divided into 2 subsamples. One subsample represented the commercial AH (Total hulls). The other half was hand sorted to separate the hulls (Pure hulls) from non-hull debris (sticks and shells). These samples were then ground for subsequent chemical analysis. Reducing the proportion of Debris in AH reduced the fiber and ash content. The Nonpareil variety was superior in quality as measured by higher sugar content and lower content of ash, lignin, and NDF compared with Other varieties. Crude fiber was more closely associated with aNDFom rather than aNDF suggesting that any change in the legal definition of AH (<15% crude fiber As Is) should be based on NDF content that is ash free. The results from this study will help dairy nutritionists to better formulate diets that include AH for lactating dairy cows to meet their nutritional requirements. Almond huller operations can also use these results to better understand how debris impacts the chemical composition and nutritive value of AH from different almond varieties. This information will also aid the California Department of Food & Agriculture in the decision process to change the law regulating the fiber composition of AH.

Keywords: almond hulls, byproduct.

Biography: Ed DePeters completed his PhD in dairy nutrition at Penn State. As a professor at UC Davis, his research has focused on mammary gland synthesis of milk protein and fat along with the evaluation of by-product feedstuffs and forage quality. He teaches courses in animal nutrition and dairy production.