Oba, M. 2011. Review: Effects of feeding sugars on productivity of lactating dairy cows. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 91: 37–46. Sugars are water-soluble carbohydrates that are readily available in the rumen. Although sugars ferment faster than starch or fibre in the rumen, the rates of disaccharide hydrolysis and monosaccharide fermentation vary greatly depending on the type of sugar and rumen environment. Despite rapid fermentation in the rumen and their potential to provide greater fermentable energy to enhance microbial protein production, feeding sugars in place of dietary starch sources may not decrease rumen pH or improve N utilization efficiency and milk protein production in dairy cows. However, feeding high-sugar diets often increases dry matter intake, butyrate concentration in the rumen, and milk fat yield. These nutritional characteristics of sugars may allow us to use high-sugar feedstuffs as an alternative energy source for lactating dairy cows to increase dietary energy density with reduced risk of rumen acidosis, but there is little evidence in the literature to indicate that the synchrony of rumen fermentation would be enhanced by feeding high-sugar diets with high soluble protein. Greater butyrate production from feeding high-sugar diets is expected to enhance proliferation of gut tissues, but its physiological mechanisms and effects of butyrate metabolism on overall productivity of dairy cows warrant further investigations.
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