Feeding distillers dried grains in replacement of forage in limit-fed dairy heifer rations: Effects on metabolic profile and onset of puberty. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objective of this study was to determine the effect of increasing the inclusion rate of distillers dried grains (DDGS) in replacement of forage in limit-fed diets on the metabolic profile and onset of puberty in dairy heifers. A 16-wk randomized complete block design study was conducted using 48 Holstein heifers (199 2 d of age) with 3 treatments. Treatments were (1) 30% DDGS (30DG), (2) 40% DDGS (40DG), and (3) 50% DDGS (50DG), with the remainder of the diet consisting of grass hay and 1.5% mineral mix. Heifers were housed in groups of 6 and individually limit-fed using Calan gates at 2.65, 2.50, and 2.35% of body weight (BW) on a dry matter (DM) basis for 30DG, 40DG, and 50DG, respectively. Jugular blood samples were collected during wk 0, 4, 8, 12, and 16 for metabolite and metabolic hormone analysis. Additional samples were taken during wk 16 for plasma fatty acid analysis. When heifers weighed 200 kg, coccygeal vein blood samples were taken twice per week for progesterone analysis to estimate onset of puberty. Blood samples continued until cycling was confirmed via ultrasound for the presence of a corpus luteum. A quadratic response and a linear tendency in the proportion of total fatty acids as linoleic acid were observed. Linear and quadratic responses for plasma concentrations of linoleic acid and arachidonic acid occurred. Overall results for fatty acid analysis demonstrated that total fatty acid and polyunsaturated fatty acids concentration in the blood were linearly increased, with a quadratic response for polyunsaturated fatty acids with 30DG and 50DG having the greatest concentrations. No interactions of treatment by week were observed for any of the metabolites and metabolic hormones measured. Glucose, insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, leptin, and triglycerides were similar across treatments. A linear response of plasma urea nitrogen and a quadratic response tendency for cholesterol concentration were observed. Age and BW at puberty were similar across treatments. Limit-feeding heifers with greater inclusion rates of DDGS maintained energy status without the accumulation of excess adipose tissue as indicated by leptin. Treatments had no detrimental effects on age or BW at puberty.

published proceedings

  • J Dairy Sci

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Manthey, A. K., Anderson, J. L., Perry, G. A., & Keisler, D. H.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Manthey, AK||Anderson, JL||Perry, GA||Keisler, DH

publication date

  • April 2017