PhD: Low protein diets based on high protein forages for dairy cows

Published 19 July 19

esearch Partner: Harper Adams University

Start and End Date: September 2018 - September 2021

PhD Student: Mohammed Rashed Chowdhury

Feeding sufficient protein to dairy cows is important to support intake, milk production and to maintain health and welfare. Feeding too much protein however is costly and can have negative consequences on the environment due to the excessive nitrogen (N) excretion.

The use of high-protein home-grown forages such as red clover or lucerne can help feeding the right amount of protein while reducing the reliance on purchased protein feeds. Feeding these diets to high yielding dairy cows is challenging, because of their low content in undegradable protein, which makes them a less suitable replacement for soyabean or rapeseed meal.

This project will determine the effects of feeding lower protein diets based on forage legumes on intake, performance, health, and N use efficiency in dairy cows.

The project is split in 3 studies:

  • Two studies will investigate the effects of reducing protein levels in diets based on

    • red clover and grass silage and

    • lucerne and maize silage.

  • A third study will explore which measures can be adopted to prevent reductions in intake and performance when low protein, forage legume based diets are fed. The benefits

The main aim of the project is to reduce reliance on purchased protein feeds, increasing the profitability of the dairy farm. The lower nitrogen emissions will also benefit the environment and the sustainability of dairy farming.

The project is part of the Research Partnership on Dairy Cow Health, Welfare and Nutrition with the University of Nottingham.