Comparisons of date-palm leaves with barley straw and brackish water with fresh water for dairy cows given a high concentrate diet in Kuwait
The main objectives of the work described in this thesis were to determine the technical feasibility of utilising date palm leaves as a potential source of roughage, and to study the effects of providing brackish water as a source of drinking water for dairy cows. Additionally, to investigate the effect of feeding a high concentrate diet on the performance of Friesian cows. Four experiments were performed during the course of three years (November 1988 - June 1991). Three experiments were carried out in Kuwait and one in the North of Scotland. Experiment 1 was designed to compare the effects of feeding locally produced date palm leaves (DPL) with imported barley straw (S) as roughages to milking cows given a high concentrate diet. Fifty-six cows were used from the fifth week of lactation for 12 weeks. Experiment 2 studied the performance of thirty eight non-lactating pregnant cows for about 15 weeks, with the same objective as experiment 1. Each of these experiments included a small trial for more detailed studies. In experiment 3 eight milking cows in the sixth week of lactation were studied for over six months to compare the effects of drinking brackish water (BW) with fresh water (FW) on the performance of the cows fed on a high concentrate diet in addition to DPL and freshly cut alfalfa. Experiment 4 was conducted in the North of Scotland to investigate the effects of feeding a high concentrate diet, similar to that of Kuwait, on the productivity and the ruminal fermentation of high yielding cows. The general conclusions drawn from these four experiments are: 1. Despite the low qulaity of DPL, it might be a suitable alternative to straw as a source of roughage for dairy cows in Kuwait. 2. Brackish water is a palatable and harmless source of drinking water, and its mineral content may be beneficial in contributing to the dairy cows dietary requirements. 3. Feeding a high level of concentrate in diets based on grass silage increases milk yield and favours body gain at the expense of milk fat content. 4. There is a need for better utilization and processing of local agricultural by-products in Kuwait for the feeding of ruminants. 5. Further research is required to investigate the performance of dairy cows under different environments, especially hot-arid conditions.