twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

Balancing winter ration supplementation for optimal cow performance

"Paying close detail to forage quality is very important to ensure that nutritional requirements of dairy herds are met," said Dr Richard Kirkland, ruminant nutritionist for Volac Wilmar Feed Ingredients

Delivering adequate energy to support milk production will always be a challenge with modern high-yielding cows and that energy will necessarily come from a range of sources. (Image source: Volac Wilmar Feed Ingredients)Delivering adequate energy to support milk production will always be a challenge with modern high-yielding cows and that energy will necessarily come from a range of sources. (Image source: Volac Wilmar Feed Ingredients)

“Balancing a winter ration should begin with silage analysis to completely understand the quality of the basal forage to enable appropriate supplementation with key macronutrients including fibre, starch, sugar, protein and fat. The primary target – ensuring energy supply is maximised,” he added.

Delivering adequate energy to support milk production will always be a challenge with modern high-yielding cows and that energy will necessarily come from a range of sources. 

“High D-value silages targeted to the highest-yielders will improve energy availability, but when it comes to supplementation, one must look for a range of energy sources to give the ration the balance needed,” said Dr Kirkland. 

Starchy cereals provide a boost over digestible fibre sources of energy but limits will soon become clear as over-reliance on either of these types of raw material will lead to problems or productivity shortfalls. With wheat and barley, rapid rates of starch fermentation in the rumen generate acid which drives down rumen pH. With this, an increased risk of acidosis also comes along. This effect will be acutely evident in the milk cheque with a fall in milk fat percentage, but the knock-on effects of poor rumen function will reduce fibre digestibility – reducing energy delivered from the basal forage, as well as increasing lameness issues. With a slower fermentation rate, maize offers a somewhat ‘safer’ form of starch than the other cereals and has a slightly higher energy density making it a good addition for starch supply. 

Digestible fibre sources such as soya hulls, citrus and sugarbeet pulp will help balance the starchy energy sources and aid rumen function and milk fat, though offer less of the rumen ‘tickle’ factor than fibrous forages. With lower energy concentration than the cereals, the greater bulk will limit the potential to deliver those vital megajoules (calories).

“The number one energy source is fat. With around 2.5-times higher energy concentration per kilo than cereals, fat punches well above its weight, but with the key benefit that it doesn’t generate acid in the rumen to risk acidosis. It’s all about getting more energy in every bite,” Dr Kirkland added.

Using fatty acids to support cow performance 

Apart from a concentrated source of megajoules, Dr Kirkland said the response to fat supplements will vary according to the blend of fatty acids making up the fat. The supplement most suitable to an individual farm will depend on factors including requirements for milk contract, stage of lactation and the drive for fertility.

For early lactation cows, the challenge is to minimise body condition score loss and to get back in calf. As a general rule, each one-unit loss in condition will reduce conception rates by 10%. During this period, C18:1 (oleic acid) is a key fatty acid, particularly when targeting those key additional megajoules as it effectively increases the digestibility of total diet fat to provide an additional energy boost and greater feed efficiency. 

“Nutrients can only provide energy if they are actually digested and absorbed by the animal. The latest research also demonstrates the beneficial effects of C18:1 on insulin status, increasing partitioning of energy and nutrients to improve body condition. We also see C18:1 directly influencing the development of fertilised eggs and the likelihood of successful pregnancy, he said.”

“However, to realise these beneficial effects, C18:1 must be delivered through the rumen to the small intestine. This can only be achieved by supplementing with rumen-protected forms of the fatty acids which in practical terms is provided by the calcium salt supplements. Data collated using the Megalac product indicates that larger granule size supplements are more effective at avoiding breakdown in the rumen, enabling delivery of the vital C18:1 to the intestine for absorption in its active form.” 

Where milk fat is a key target, then supplements with higher levels of C16:0 (palmitic acid) are most appropriate. Recent data demonstrate an increase in fibre digestion with these supplements which will also aid milk fat, but care should be taken in early lactation as these supplements can drive milk production at the expense of body fat, leading to poorer cow condition which we need to avoid.

A multi-purpose fat supplement like Mega-Max with a scientifically proven ratio of around 60% C16:0 and 30% C18:1 is an effective way to meet nutritional needs of the entire herd at different stages of lactation.

“A balanced ration is important to keep the engines running smoothly in modern dairy cows, but the primary need is for energy which will always be a challenge to meet,” Dr Kirkland added.


LATEST NEWS IN Cattle

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-…

Intracare, developer and supplier of products for veterinary health and nutrition, has come up with the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage, which will be available worldwide

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustainable feed solutions for small-scale producers

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustai…

Nutreco, a global animal nutrition leader, has received a US$4.8mn grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the implementation of localised, sustainable complete feed production in sub-Saharan...

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

As price volatility propels the use of alternative feed ingredients, Adisseo's team discusses how the quality of diets and the performance of animals can be maintained in such situations

Tackling transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe

Tackling transboundary animal diseases i…

To curb high impact transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development launched the animal health...

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure safety in animal food products

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure sa…

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) are working with Zambian experts to address drug resistant microbes as well as food contamination in meat...

Evonik publishes first edition of animal diet

Evonik publishes first edition of animal…

Evonik, a German-based specialty chemicals company has published the first edition of the MetAMINO ATLAS displaying the results of 15 performance trials investigating the relative bioavailability of supplementary methionine sources...

Prev Next

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES - Cattle

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-…

Intracare, developer and supplier of products for veterinary health and nutrition, has come up with the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage, which will be available worldwide

FAO and OIE collaborate to curb animal disease

FAO and OIE collaborate to curb animal d…

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) will join forces to control the spread of animal disease to improve food safety and...

Report: African herders 'key in eradicating rinderpest'

Report: African herders 'key in eradicat…

New analysis published in the academic Science journal traces the cause of the recent global eradication of deadly cattle disease, rinderpest, and credits local African herders for their insight and assistance

Balancing winter ration supplementation for optimal cow performance

Balancing winter ration supplementation …

"Paying close detail to forage quality is very important to ensure that nutritional requirements of dairy herds are met," said Dr Richard Kirkland, ruminant nutritionist for Volac Wilmar Feed Ingredients

Namibia sees a rise in cattle export

Namibia sees a rise in cattle export

A total of 315,198 cattle were exported from Namibia in 2017, as compared to 164 220 in 2016, said Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, board chairperson of Meatco

Olam and InVivo to develop animal feed solutions in Nigeria

Olam and InVivo to develop animal feed s…

Global agri-business entity Olam International Limited and InVivo Animal Nutrition & Health have signed a consulting agreement to develop expertise in animal feed production in Nigeria 

Genetic engineering to help fight against African cattle disease

Genetic engineering to help fight agains…

Scientists have identified two genes which may help the fight against African animal trypanosomiasis, a sleeping sickness transmitted by tsetse fly

Cattle keepers and farmers in Bahr El Ghazal agree on peaceful coexistence

Cattle keepers and farmers in Bahr El Gh…

Cattle keepers and farmers in Bahr El Ghazal agree on peaceful coexistence during the tense dry season to minimise the annual conflicts that cattle movements during the dry season tend...

EXEO Capital announces investment in Dairyland

EXEO Capital announces investment in Dai…

Pan-African private equity investment manager EXEO Capital has announced an investment by its Food and Agribusiness Fund, Agri-Vie Fund II, in Glacier Products Limited – a Kenyan brand of ice...

DOB Equity invests further in Tanzania’s dairy processor Tanga Fresh

DOB Equity invests further in Tanzania’s…

DOB Equity, one of the leading Dutch family-backed impact investors in East Africa, has announced further investment in Tanga Fresh, dairy processor in Tanzania

Tackling transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe

Tackling transboundary animal diseases i…

To curb high impact transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development launched the animal health...

Kenyan dairy farm project set up by Italian investors

Kenyan dairy farm project set up by Ital…

Italian firm Sace-Servizi Internazionali, together with nine specialists in the beef and dairy value chain, is investing US$20mn in a model dairy farm at MoiUniversity in Eldoret, Kenya

Prev Next