Introduction

The modern dairy cow is a marvel of nutrient metabolism and metabolic efficiency. Due to a combination of genetic selection, advances in nutrition, and improved management practices, these cows have the potential to produce >90 kg of milk per day. The average milk production for Holsteins in the United States on DHI test in 2003 was 9830 kg of milk in a 305-day lactation.[1] Individual dairy cows have produced in excess of 30,000 kg of milk in lactation. A dairy cow producing 45 kg of milk per day may consume 25 27 kg of diet dry matter per day. To support this level of milk production, the 3 3.5 kg of glucose and 2.2 kg of lactose must be synthesized daily by the cow. An emerging concern is to design nutrition programs that permit cows to attain their genetic capability for milk production while providing profit for the dairy manager, maintaining animal health, and decreasing nutrient excretion to the environment.

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