Corn grain and corn silage are major feed components in lactating dairy cow rations. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that produces a protein that is toxic to lepidopteran insects that may damage plant tissues and reduce corn quality and yields.

During each of the four 28-d periods, cows were offered 1 of 4 rations in which the corn grain and silage originated from different corn hybrids: a nontransgenic corn control (from hybrid DKC63-78; Monsanto Co., St. Louis, MO); a Bt test substance corn (MON 89034 in hybrid DKC63-78; Monsanto Co.); and 2 commercial nontransgenic reference (Ref) hybrids: DKC61-42 (Ref 1) and DKC62-30 (Ref 2; Monsanto Co.).

Sixteen multiparous Holstein cows averaging 110±21 d in milk and weighing 684±62.3kg were blocked by days in milk and milk yield and randomly assigned to one of four 4 × 4 Latin squares. Diets were formulated to contain 36.4% corn silage and 16.3% corn grain. Dry matter intake was greater for cows consuming Bt corn (26.6±0.59kg/d) compared with the control, Ref 1, and Ref 2 corn diets (25.4, 25.0, and 25.6±0.59kg/d, respectively).

Milk yield, fat yield, and percentage of fat (36.8±0.98kg/d, 1.22±0.05kg/d, and 3.3±0.10%), milk protein yield and percentage of protein (1.11±0.03kg/d and 3.01±0.05%), milk urea nitrogen concentration (14.01±0.49mg/dL), and 3.5% fat-corrected milk yield (35.7±1.07kg/d) were not different across treatments.

The results from this study show lactating dairy cows that consume Bt corn (MON 89034) do not differ from lactating dairy cows that consume nontransgenic corn in milk yield, 3.5% fat-corrected milk per unit of dry matter intake, or milk components.

Source: Journal of Dairy Science