Evaluating brown mid-rib (BMR) dwarf pearl millet as a forage for lactating dairy cows

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2016: $14,885.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Grant Recipient: Penn State University
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Alexander Hristov
Pennsylvania State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: millet
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: crop rotation, double cropping, relay cropping

    Proposal abstract:

    Brown Midrib (BMR) dwarf pearl millet may provide northeastern dairy farmers with an alternative forage source for lactating dairy cows to increase annual forage yield, add crop diversity and enhance nutrient utilization. Pearl millet is a summer annual with a shorter growing season than corn and therefore increases the growing season for winter annuals in a double cropping system. Pearl millet cropping has the potential to decrease spring and fall field workload, since it is planted after corn and harvested before corn for silage. This could result in better utilization of fixed planter and harvester equipment costs. Pearl millet grows well in heat and performs well with inconsistent moisture. It offers more summer opportunities to spread manure at a more appropriate time when growing crops can rapidly utilize nutrients before they are lost to the environment. Pearl millet has to be shown to adequately support milk production in order to replace a portion of the corn silage acres on northeast dairy farms.Our hypothesis is that the BMR dwarf variety of pearl millet proposed in this project would support milk production in high‐producing dairy cows due to its higher fiber digestibility and higher leaf to stem ratio than regular pearl millet. To test this hypothesis, we propose a crossover feeding trial with 16 lactating cows. The effect of partial replacement of corn silage in the diet with BMR dwarf pearl millet on feed intake, milk production, digestibility, nitrogen utilization, rumination, and enteric methane emissions will be evaluated.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. To evaluate the effect of including BMR pearl millet silage in a high producing dairy cow ration on dry matter intake and milk production .

    2. To investigate the effect of diet inclusion of BMR pearl millet silage on milk components and fatty acid profile.

    3. To evaluate the total tract nutrient digestibility and nitrogen utilization of a dairy cow diet containing BMR pearl millet silage.

    4. To examine the effect of BMR pearl millet silage inclusion in the diet of high producing dairy cows on enteric methane emissions,resting time, rumination time, and activity.

    5. To elucidate the economic impacts on farm profitability of growing BMR pearl millet silage in partial substitution of corn silage.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.