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Toward a new practical energy evaluation system for dairy cows

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ilias Kyriazakis



Energy evaluation systems translate an animal’s net energy (NE) requirements into feed metabolisable energy requirements (MER). The Feed into Milk (FiM) project (Agnew RE, Yan T, France J, Kebreab E and Thomas C 2004. Energy requirement and supply. In Feed into Milk. A new applied feeding system for dairy cows (ed. C Thomas), pp. 11–20. Nottingham University Press, Nottingham, UK) proposed a new system to predict MER of dairy cows that is, in contrast to previous energy evaluation systems for cattle, independent of feed quality. The FiM system shares this characteristic with an energy evaluation system for ad libitum-fed cattle proposed in 1994 by Tolkamp and Ketelaars (T&K). The FiM system requires nine parameters to translate requirements for NE into MER for dairy cows, while the T&K system for cattle requires only two for the same purpose. This paper analyses the contribution of each of the parameters to the final MER predictions, the differences in MER prediction between the two systems and the underlying causes of these differences. The systems differ considerably in their estimates of the NE that is required for maintenance and in their (implicit) assumptions about the partial efficiency of ME utilisation for lactation. The T&K system is based on a constant partial efficiency of ME utilisation, but in the FiM system this efficiency changes with milk yield (MY) and shows a sharp discontinuity that is at odds with the underlying biology. These are the two main causes of the differences in MER predictions. Nevertheless, over a range of MYs between 10 and 40 kg, and for cows maintaining, gaining or losing weight, the MER predictions of the two systems are very similar with maximum differences of up to ±2% only. FiM predictions of MER are systematically higher than T&K predictions for cows with very low and very high MY. It is concluded that the FiM system could reduce parameter requirements with negligible effects on MER predictions. The combination of a very high maintenance NE parameter and a curvilinear model with two subsequent corrections leads to internal inconsistencies in the FiM system. The T&K system is much simpler but it might benefit from including more recent information for the estimation of its parameters.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tolkamp BJ, Kyriazakis I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal

Year: 2009

Volume: 3

Issue: 2

Pages: 307-314

Date deposited: 11/02/2011

ISSN (print): 1751-7311

ISSN (electronic): 1751-732X

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1751731108003431


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