The large expansion of the canola crushing industry that occurred in North America in the last decade has increased the supply of canola meal for the animal feed industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service reported canola meal production in 2017-18 in the U.S. was 1.08 million tons.
The use of cactus for feeding dairy cows in dry areas has been increasing mainly due to its high efficiency of water use, rapid dissemination, high water and energy content, and high forage yield. Opuntia stricta is a large cactus originated in central America that can grow up to two meters in height.
Sugar beet is a temperate climate crop grown mainly for production of sucrose. Beet pulp, the main co-product obtained during the process, is a common ingredient in dairy cow diets. Beet pulp is a good nonforage fiber source with high levels of digestible fiber and pectic substances.
Soybean meal, canola meal, and corn distillers’ grains are good sources of protein for dairy cows. Since they have different rumen undegradable protein (RUP) content and amino acid profile, feeding diets that include two or three protein sources is the best strategy for covering amino acids requirements in high producing cows.
Corn (Zea mays L.) is nowadays the main cereal grain included in dairy cow diets in the US. Nonetheless, the cold weather of the west of Canada and some of the European countries is not adequate for cultivating corn, being wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), the main cereal grain produced in those areas.
Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) is a perennial legume crop grown for centuries in Europe and the Middle East. It is named commonly “healthy hay” largely due to its condensed tannins (CT) content which inhibits protein degradation in the rumen, thereby minimizing the incidence of ruminal tympany (bloat).
Faba beans (Vicia faba) is a grain legume that may be considered as dual-purpose feed for protein and starch contents. Due to its high protein (28 – 32% dry matter; DM) and starch contents (40% DM), faba beans can replace both protein meals and cereal grains in dairy cow diets.
Berry fruits contain vitamins (C, E, folic acid) and other biologically active substances such as tannins, saponins, flavonoids, phenolic acids… that may be beneficial for ruminants. These substances can potentially stimulate the microbial metabolism in the rumen and improve fermentation of nutrients.
Flax is a cool climate crop grown mainly for production of fiber and food. Its seed, linseed, is rich in oil which contains more than 50% of the essential fatty acid alfa-linolenic acid (omega-3). Linolenic acid is converted into eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, precursors of eicosanoids such as prostaglandins.
There are a wide variety of forage crops used in the United States for dairy farms. One of the most common is oat as it provides the benefit of diversifying crop rotation. In fact, over 1.3 million hectares of oat were planted in the United States with over 60 percent of the output used for forage.