Effect of feeding rumen-protected rice bran on mineral status of non-lactating dairy heifers

J. Martin-Tereso Lopez, C. Distefano, H. van Laar, K. Mulder, L.A. den Hartog, M.W.A. Verstegen

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Adapting Ca homeostasis of dairy cows before calving can prevent milk fever. Rice bran, treated with formaldehyde to prevent ruminal degradation of phytic acid, was fed to heifers to study its effect on Ca homeostasis. For 3 weeks 18 heifers were supplemented 3 kg of two feeds: placebo (PF) and rice bran (RBF), defining three treatments: control (CRT), low dose (LD) and high dose (HD). In weeks 1 and 3, all animals received 3 kg of PF and in week 2: CRT received 3 kg of PF, LD received 1.5 kg of PF and 1.5 kg of RBF and HD received 3 kg of RBF. Treatments did not affect dry matter intake (DMI). Feed intakes and growth rates indicated that all heifers had nutritional requirements that exceeded their Ca intakes. Serum Ca, urinary Ca, calcitriol or hydroxyproline remained unaffected. Urinary Ca was consistently low indicating high renal Ca reabsorption, which is indicative of insufficient Ca supply. Rice bran feed influenced P, Mg and Zn intakes and serum and urine presence of these minerals. Most heifers already presented an upregulated Ca metabolism, being inadequate to study adaptive changes in Ca homeostasis of multiparous dry cows. This metabolic difference can be explanatory to the very low susceptibility of heifers to milk fever, further supporting the induction of homeostatic adaptation before calving to prevent milk fever. Rice bran feed did not reduce DMI, and was not detrimental to P, Mg or Zn status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-80
JournalJournal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • zeolite-a supplementation
  • magnesium absorption
  • dry period
  • phosphorus
  • cows
  • calcium
  • phytate
  • homeostasis
  • metabolism
  • zinc

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