Cocoa byproduct in diets for dairy heifers

ABSTRACT This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of substituting Tifton 85 hay (Cynodon sp. cv. Tifton 85) with levels of cocoa (Theobroma cacao) byproduct (0, 8, 16, and 24%, diet dry matter basis) in the diet of 16 Holstein × Gir heifers with an average body weight of 363.0±27.7 kg on their nutrient intake, digestibility, and protein balance. The experimental period was 17 days, and the sample collection period was five days. There was no effect of cocoa byproduct on nutrient intake. However, the byproduct affected the digestibility of dry matter, crude protein, neutral detergent fiber, and acid detergent fiber, all of which decreased as the level of inclusion of the byproduct in the diet was increased. Nitrogen balance was negatively affected by the inclusion of 24% cocoa byproduct. It is recommended to use cocoa byproduct up to the level of 16% to replace Tifton 85 grass hay in diets for dairy heifers.