Lysine is critically important for supporting maximum production in dairy cows. Lysine is an essential amino acid when feeding dairy cattle and must be supplemented into a cow's diet when typical diets cannot meet her requirements. When optimal lysine levels are fed, producers can:
- Feed diets lower in crude protein
- Achieve more efficient production of milk and milk components
- Reduce the overall nitrogen excretion from their cows into the environment
Lysine Deficient Diets
Many dairy cow diets are lysine deficient, especially those that are corn based. The graphic below looks at amino acids as a percent of composition. It is not possible to provide enough lysine with corn and soybean meal. A nutritionist's goal is to match up the protein source with the cow's lysine requirement.
How Much Is Really Needed?
In 2001, the National Research Council (NRC) conducted a meta analysis and determined the breaking point for metabolizable (MP) lysine is 7.2%. MP lysine is the amount of lysine passing through the rumen in a form that is available for absorption in the small intestine. This level of MP lysine:
- Supports maximum milk production
- Optimizes milk component levels
- Create potential for palatability issues when animal-based bypass protein sources such as blood meal and fish meal are fed to meet this level