The addition of three different levels of cactus pear (Opuntia ficusindica) to the diet of Holstein cows and its effect on milk production in the dry season
Keywords:Cactus pear, dairy cattle, production.
The aim of this research was to evaluate the effect of adding three differing levels of Opuntia
ficus-indica (OFI) to the diet of Holstein cows in a period of drought and its influence on milk
production (MP). Six cows with an average of 56.9 days on milk were subjected to a
replicated Latin square design (3 x 3). The cows were assigned to two groups, each group
(n=3) was fed with three different diets containing 10, 20 and 30 kg cow-1 d-1. The feed was
giving in alternating cycles of seven-day cactus pear diet and seven-day rest period, in which,
there was not cactus pear supplementation. Fresh cactus pear was cut into pieces
(approximately 5 x 5 cm) and given to the cows, within seven days after being harvested.
Resultant data were analyzed using the least squares methodology: statistical differences
between treatments means were performed by the Tukey test. The group, week (group) and
cows (group) did not affect the MP (P>0.05); however, treatment did affect the MP
(P=0.0042). The diet containing 10 and 20 kg d-1 of cactus pear improved the MP: 12.182 and
12.716 kg milk d-1, respectively; both being statistically equal (P>0.05); however, these
means were different (P<0.05) when compared to the diet containing 30 kg d-1 of cactus pear,
which decreased MP (11.026 kg milk cow-1 d-1). Therefore, diets containing 10 or 20 kg cow-1
d-1 were the best choice to maintain herd productivity during the dry season.