Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Hill, J. K. (2021). Testing the Palatability of Different Feeds Commonly Fed to Lactating Dairy Cattle; Seeking Solutions to Increase Preference for Unpalatable Byproducts. Embargoed Honors Theses, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Jade Hill 2021.


Hydrolyzed feather meal (HFM) is a readily available, high-protein byproduct that is often fed to dairy cattle; however, practical concerns of its palatability exist. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the preference of HFM compared to other common feed commodities and to determine if the addition of flavor enhancers can improve palatability. Two taste preference experiments using 8 lactating Jersey cows were conducted to test these objectives. In Experiment 1, HFM was compared to ground corn (COR), dried corn distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS), and an equal blend of all three (BLND). Cows were offered 1.13 kg of each in a randomized location within the feed bunk for 1 h or until the feed was fully consumed. Feeds were offered over nine consecutive days with three feeding segments, where the most preferred feed of each segment was removed. Feed preference was ranked from 1 (most preferred) to 4 (least preferred) in the order they were removed. Experiment 2 evaluated HFM with flavor enhancers: dried oregano (ORG; High Quality Organics, Reno, NV), artificial licorice flavor (LIC; Luctarom 5296Z, Lucta USA, LLC, Mahwah, NJ), and artificial melon flavor mixed with a sensory feed additive (MBO; Luctarom 3618Z and Bitter Off, Lucta USA, LLC, Mahwah, NJ). The same ranking process was repeated, but the HFM and additive mixture was diluted with corn silage. In Experiment 1, the preference ranking of DDGS was highest (1.25 ± 0.71) followed by COR, BLND, and HFM (2.00 ± 0.53, 2.64 ± .52, and 3.38 ± 0.74). In Experiment 2, ORG was observed to be the most preferred (1.71 ± 0.95) followed by LIC (2.29 ± 1.11), HFM (2.57 ± 0.79), and MBO (2.71 ± 1.11). These results suggest that although feed preference for HFM may not be as high as other common feeds, palatability may be improved by the addition of flavoring agents.