Association of total mixed ration particle fractions retained on the Penn State Particle Separator with milk, fat, and protein yield lactation curves at the cow level

M. Caccamo, J.D. Ferguson, R.F. Veerkamp, I. Schadt, R. Petriflieri, G. Azzaro, A. Pozzebon, G. Licitra

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4 Citations (Scopus)


As part of a larger project aiming to develop management evaluation tools based on results from test-day (TD) models, the objective of this study was to examine the effect of physical composition of total mixed rations (TMR) tested quarterly from March 2006 through December 2008 on milk, fat, and protein yield curves for 25 herds in Ragusa, Sicily. A random regression sire-maternal grandsire model was used to estimate variance components for milk, fat, and protein yields fitted on a full data set, including 241,153 TD records from 9,809 animals in 42 herds recorded from 1995 through 2008. The model included parity, age at calving, year at calving, and stage of pregnancy as fixed effects. Random effects were herd × test date, sire and maternal grandsire additive genetic effect, and permanent environmental effect modeled using third-order Legendre polynomials. Model fitting was carried out using ASREML. Afterward, for the 25 herds involved in the study, 9 particle size classes were defined based on the proportions of TMR particles on the top (19-mm) and middle (8-mm) screen of the Penn State Particle Separator. Subsequently, the model with estimated variance components was used to examine the influence of TMR particle size class on milk, fat, and protein yield curves. An interaction was included with the particle size class and days in milk. The effect of the TMR particle size class was modeled using a ninth-order Legendre polynomial. Lactation curves were predicted from the model while controlling for TMR chemical composition (crude protein content of 15.5%, neutral detergent fiber of 40.7%, and starch of 19.7% for all classes), to have pure estimates of particle distribution not confounded by nutrient content of TMR. We found little effect of class of particle proportions on milk yield and fat yield curves. Protein yield was greater for sieve classes with 10.4 to 17.4% of TMR particles retained on the top (19-mm) sieve. Optimal distributions different from those recommended may reflect regional differences based on climate and types and quality of forages fed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2502-2511
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • physically effective fiber
  • neutral detergent fiber
  • dairy-cows
  • grain fermentability
  • rumen fermentation
  • midlactation cows
  • corn-silage
  • ruminal ph
  • size
  • forage

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